A consortium of some of the most renowned energy companies in the world would construct the world’s largest concentrating solar power plant near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The plant would have a capacity of 100 MW.
France’s oil company Total, one of the six ‘super major’ oil companies in the world, and Spain’s Abengoa Solar will join hands with Abu Dhabi-based alternate energy company Masdar to build this power plant which would span 2.5 square kilometers (one square mile). The project will be located in Madinat Zayed, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Abu Dhabi.
According to company estimates, the cost of the project is expected to be around $600 million and the project would offset 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The plant will comprise of concentrating mirrors which will focus the solar energy on tube passing through their foci. The tube will contain an oil which will absorb the sun’s heat which will then convert water into steam to drive a steam turbine and produce electricity through a generator.
According to the project manager, the electricity generated will be used for providing electricity through the daytime when the demand peaks due to heavy airconditioning requirements. The power plant will be complemented with an power generation system based on natural gas in order to fulfill the demand in the absence of adequate sunlight.
The project would help Abu Dhabi achieve its target of generating seven percent of the electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The construction of the plant would commence in the third quarter of this year and would be completed by 2012 and the company intends to construct two more such projects in the future.
The construction of world’s largest concentrating solar power plant in the country having the sixth largest proven oil reserves speaks volumes about the urgent need for transition to renewable energy technologies. Several developed and developing countries continue to see fossil fuels as their primary energy resource even for the long term. Many countries like India and China are looking to expand their strategic strongholds in countries with ample reserves of oil, natural gas and coal. Countries like the United States and Canada are either looking for domestic oil reserves or are debating about whether to increase investments into renewable energy technologies or not.
Talks about achieving energy independence are virtually meaningless if we do not consider renewable energy resources and so is short-term energy planning. Planning about future energy demands and their fulfillment can only be done if we realize that we have only limited conventional energy resources and we must initiate the transition to clean energy resources today. Surely, construction of such large-scale power plants is not always viable given the global economic slowdown but lawmakers could at least show a sincere intent for promoting clean energy technologies by not blocking new energy policies.
Hat tip: AFP/ Yahoo News
Photo credit: Worklife Siemens at Flickr/ Creative Commons
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.