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Abu Dhabi plans decade of solar power launches

An average of 1.4 GW of new solar capacity will be needed per year until 2037 to meet the increasing demand for electricity in Abu Dhabi engineers solar panels hard hats solar power Wanwajee Weeraphukdee/Shutterstock
An average of 1.4GW of new solar capacity will be needed per year until 2037 to meet the increasing demand for electricity in Abu Dhabi, according to EWEC
  • EWEC lines up one solar project per year
  • Average of 1.4GW needed annually
  • Battery storage will go to tender

Abu Dhabi is to launch a new solar power project each year for a decade, starting in 2027, Bruce Smith, strategy and planning executive director at the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), told AGBI.

EWEC is also exploring the issuance of a green bond to finance this series of projects, he said.

The company is the single buyer and seller of water and electricity in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, responsible for procuring sufficient production capacity and fuel to meet water and electricity demand.

EWEC said in its latest Statement of Future Capacity report that an average of 1.4 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will be needed every year until 2037 to meet the increasing demand for electricity in Abu Dhabi.

The company will tender its battery storage project before the end of the first half of this year to procure 400 megawatts (MW) of short-duration batteries, Smith said.

“If the frequency within the grid varies because it becomes cloudy, for example, the batteries will provide grid stability,” he said. 

Grid stability services have previously been provided by gas generators. 

“Batteries enable us to turn the gas plants off and keep the grid stable,” Smith said. 

“It’s a critical enabler, allowing us to put more of the cheapest energy that we can, which is solar, into the grid and also to keep the carbon emissions down.”

Like many other countries worldwide, the UAE is utilising gas as a “key transition fuel”.

EWEC plans to end gas procurements by 2049.

The company is also moving from thermal desalination to reverse osmosis as its primary desalination technology, as part of efforts to decarbonise its power and water systems.

“We will be replacing all of our thermal desalination with membrane-based reverse osmosis,” Smith said.

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