Agricultural businesses in the Middle East have a lot to contend with — water shortages, fluctuating rainfall, effects of climate change, high CO2 emissions per capita. The fertile lands of the region once provided conditions for incredible agricultural growth, which led to the evolution of human potential across millennia. Fast forward to the 21st century, and new power solutions now may provide the necessary energy pathways for successful local agriculture to flourish again in the region.
Yes, the energy landscape is changing across the Middle East as clean renewables enter the picture. Obstacles to agriculture aren’t stopping renewable energy technology company BYD (“Build Your Dreams”), which has unveiled plans to construct an agricultural center in the Middle East. The center will incorporate state-of-the-art power solutions and could potentially assist countries in the Middle East to farm agricultural products domestically. That would mean much more locally grown produce and livestock would be available, shifting the need for many countries away from importing the majority of their food.
Agricultural Center To Be Part of Larger Renewable Energy Transition
The countries in the Middle East seem to agree that fulfilling their growing domestic energy demand with renewable sources instead of traditional hydrocarbon reserves makes sense as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Renewables 2017 report described growth in renewable electric capacity of 43% (922 GW) over 2017–2022. The IEA also warned that market barriers, weak grid infrastructure, and difficulties in securing affordable financing could limit potential growth.
Saudi Arabia and the other GCC States are investing millions of dollars in local and foreign advanced technology to improve agriculture practices in the region. Enter BYD, which aims to invest in agriculture as a way to combine different types of renewable energy generation with its batteries. The result will be a stable supply of clean energy for an agriculture center as a result of renewable power solutions.
With nature as a true partner, the center will integrate design frameworks in a way that creates ecosystem services and sustainable resiliency. “In the 25-year warranty, we can guarantee zero degradation on the storage capacity for the energy storage system,” said Tom Zhao, Managing Director of BYD Solar Division. “This technological advancement makes our project environmentally friendly and helps keep it sustainable in the long run.”
A Sustainable Agricultural Center for the Middle East
The agricultural center is intended to develop several interesting sustainability initiatives, including a greenhouse. Reducing the energy consumed by greenhouses has become a priority as the global use of greenhouses for food production has increased six-fold over the past 20 years. “Smart greenhouses” can capture solar energy for electricity without reducing plant growth.
Another plan for the agricultural center is to create the capacity to produce animal feed. Crop and livestock farming complement each other well; half the world’s food comes from farms that raise both. Life cycle assessments to evaluate the impact of local protein feed production, compared with the use of imported protein feed, present an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Another venture for the agricultural center will be to cultivate seeds that have been exposed to space. Experiments are underway with these special seeds to determine if they are able to tolerate high temperatures and require less water. Chinese researchers been sewing thousands of hectares of seeds that have been in space to induce genetic mutations, some of which could have beneficial effects.
Soil that will be imported from neighboring countries will be fed with fertilizer, while highly efficient irrigation systems will ensure the smart use of desalinated water. The scale of water stress in the Gulf region was defined by Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, minister of environment and water, at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Research and Studies’ 17th annual conference on Water and Food Security. “The groundwater shortage has led to growing demand for fresh water. Around 70 per cent of available fresh water is used by the agriculture sector, while water demand in the urban sector has more than doubled. Moreover, domestic water consumption is not economical. All these factors complicate the problem.”
Facilities at the agricultural center will be powered by BYD’s “Fully Sustainable Power Solutions,” an integration of solar power generation with a state-of-the-art battery energy storage system. It is a move that will see the use of renewable energy technology introduced into a water scarce region. This system will ensure an inexpensive and stable power supply for the agricultural center.
Power Solutions for the Next Generation
After 23 years of development, BYD Company Ltd. created a Zero Emissions Energy Ecosystem, which combines affordable solar power generation, reliable energy storage, cutting-edge electrified transportation, and a state of the art monorail. These four parts coalesce into an equation that fosters the shift to renewable energy in the power and transportation sector.
Such a conjunction of renewable energy sources to energy storage systems is a key factor on the road to clean energy. BYD was honored in 2017 with the Global Leading RES (Renewable Energy Systems) Award in the category “Tech Driver” for the 31.5 MW Beech Ridge energy storage project in West Virginia. The connection of BYD’s storage system to Invenergy’s 100.5 MW wind farm meant substantial clean energy progress for that area.
BYD’s expertise in rechargeable batteries and its advocacy of sustainable development has propelled the company into the international marketplace. BYD says its “Fully Sustainable Power Solutions” can break the “traditional bottleneck of photovoltaic power generation” so that PV projects meet more diverse market needs and create new growth potential in the renewable energy industry.
A case study highlighting frequency regulation — one of the benefits of the “Fully Sustainable Power Solutions” — was presented at Intersolar Europe 2017, the solar industry’s biggest trade show. Results from the 60MWh UK project indicate that BYD’s energy storage system operated smoothly and matched over 99% of aggregate demand with five to six cycles every day. This frequency regulation project was the biggest of its kind in the UK to date.
When energy generated through PV goes first into energy storage, BVD argues, instabilities in energy flow dissipates rather than disrupts lives and business operations. The high-tech multinational company, which is based in Shenzhen, China, has expanded its renewable energy solutions globally and now has operations in over 50 countries and regions.
The World Future Energy Summit as a Stage for Sustainable Practices
BYD’s announcement about investing in an agricultural center was made at Abu Dhabi’s 11th World Future Energy Summit (WFES), an annual trade show featuring the latest in sustainable energy practices.
At the WFES, BYD also announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Power China Guizhou Engineering Co. Ltd. to expand its “Fully Sustainable Power Solutions” to other markets in the world. Power China is the world’s biggest electrical engineering company.
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