The First MENA Solar Conference starts tomorrow with researchers from 120 universities and 38 countries informs the Government of Dubai.
14 Nov, 2023
With the participation of prominent researchers and experts from 120 universities and research centres from 38 countries, the first Middle East and North Africa Solar Conference (MENA SC) 2023, organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) launches tomorrow, (Wednesday 15 November 2023). The conference lasts until 18 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre. MENA SC coincides with the 25th Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and Dubai Solar Show (DSS) organised by DEWA from 15 to 17 November.
MENA SC focuses on six research areas in solar power. These include unconventional and new concepts for future technologies; silicon photovoltaic materials and devices; Perovskite and organic materials; PV module and system reliability in the MENA region; solar resources for PV and forecasting; and power electronics and grid integration.
The conference aims to highlight various fields of solar energy to accelerate the transition towards clean and renewable energy in the region with specialised discussion panels and seminars. It provides an important opportunity for experts, researchers, and specialists worldwide to exchange ideas, discuss projects and growth opportunities in the sector, share knowledge and experiences, and explore the latest technologies and scientific innovations in solar energy.
Participants at the conference include Lawrence L. Kazmerski, Professor and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Emeritus Fellow, University of Colorado Boulder, USA; Mohammad K. Nazeeruddin, Professor and Molecular Engineering Laboratory Director, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland; Shanhui Fan, Professor and Senior Fellow, Stanford University, USA; Mowafak Al Jassim, Principal Scientist and PV Group Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), USA; Steven Ringel, Professor and Associate Vice President, Ohio State University, USA; Xiaojing Hao, Professor and ARC Future Fellow, University of New South Wales, Australia; and many experts from around the world.
The IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook forecasts renewables will supply almost half of the global power mix by 2030, but urges much stronger policies are needed to achieve the 1.5°C target.
The latest edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) describes an energy system in 2030 in which clean technologies play a significantly greater role than today.
This includes almost 10 times as many electric cars on the road worldwide, solar PV generating more electricity than the entire US power system does today, renewables’ share of the global electricity mix nearing 50%, up from around 30% today, heat pumps and other electric heating systems outselling fossil fuel boilers globally and three times as much investment going into new offshore wind projects than into new coal- and gas-fired power plants.
All of those increases are based only on the current policy settings of governments around the world.
If countries deliver on their national energy and climate pledges on time and in full, clean energy progress would move even faster.
However, even stronger measures would still be needed to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.
“The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable. It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“Governments, companies and investors need to get behind clean energy transitions rather than hindering them.
The WEO-2023 proposes a global strategy for getting the world on track by 2030 that consists of five key pillars, which can also provide the basis for a successful COP28 climate change conference.
These comprise tripling global renewable capacity, doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements, slashing methane emissions from fossil fuel operations by 75%, innovative, large-scale financing mechanisms to triple clean energy investments in emerging and developing economies; and measures to ensure an orderly decline in the use of fossil fuels, including an end to new approvals of unabated coal-fired power plants.
Birol added: “Every country needs to find its own pathway, but international cooperation is crucial for accelerating clean energy transitions.
“In particular, the speed at which emissions decline will hinge in large part on our ability to finance sustainable solutions to meet rising energy demand from the world’s fast-growing economies.
“This all points to the vital importance of redoubling collaboration and cooperation, not retreating from them.”
Oman has solidified its position as the frontrunner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region concerning potential solar farm capacity, as per the latest data from the Global Solar Power Tracker.
This report, focusing on solar farm projects of 20 MW capacity and above, indicates that Oman ranks first in the MENA region and eleventh worldwide, boasting an impressive anticipated capacity of 18,349 megawatts (MW), equating to 1.55% of the global total capacity.
Oman’s robust dedication to renewable energy and its aspiration to diversify its energy mix is evident in the data provided by the Global Solar Power Tracker.
Capitalizing on its extensive desert landscapes and abundant sunlight, Oman has harnessed its solar potential, positioning itself at the forefront of the MENA region’s solar revolution.
The potential capacity encompasses the cumulative sum of solar farm projects in various phases, including those under construction, in the pre-construction stage, and those already announced. This indicates a substantial growth trajectory for Oman’s solar industry in the forthcoming years.
Beyond highlighting Oman’s commitment to renewable energy, the report also underscores the country’s remarkable progress in executing solar farm projects. Presently, Oman has four operational solar farms, three in the construction phase, twelve in the pre-construction stage, and two announced projects. These advancements signify a burgeoning and swiftly evolving solar sector within the nation.
Oman’s flagship renewable energy endeavor is the 500 MW Ibri Solar Power Complex, one of the largest solar installations in the region. Located in Al Dhahirah Governorate, the project supplies energy to around 33,000 homes and effectively offsets millions of tons of carbon emissions annually.
Additionally, the ongoing implementation of two Independent Power Projects (IPPs) at Manah is set to contribute 1,000 MW of new solar capacity when operational in 2025.
In recent developments, Nama Power & Water Procurement Company (Nama PWP), responsible for power and water procurement in Oman, has outlined plans to secure a new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) Independent Power Project (IPP) by 2029. Tentatively named ‘Solar PV IPPs 2029,’ the project is slated to have a combined capacity of 1000 MW, consisting of two IPPs each with 500 MW.
The report also provides a broader view of the global solar farm landscape, revealing an astonishing total potential capacity of 1,184,296 MW. This underscores the escalating worldwide focus on renewable energy as countries endeavor to curtail carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The top five nations on the list include China, the United States, Spain, Australia, and India. In the MENA region, Oman leads the list at the eleventh spot, followed by Egypt (12th with 17,094 WM), Morocco (15th with 13,538 MW), Saudi Arabia (17th with 9,051 MW), Iraq (18th with 8,385 MW), and Kuwait (19th with 7,970 MW).
Oman’s achievement of securing the eleventh global position is a significant milestone not only for the country but also for the broader MENA region. It showcases the region’s extensive potential for solar energy generation and its substantial contribution to global renewable energy targets.
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Solar Appreciation Day 2022: Here’re Some Unique Use of Solar Technologies Worldwide to Combat Energy Crisis
India’s budget for FY2022-23 clearly highlights the country’s priority to double down for ‘green’ and renewable energy, particularly solar, to combat climate change and meet the emission reduction targets set for 2030.
Moreover, as the Ukraine-Russia war continues, coal and natural gas prices are surging sharply across the globe. With the soaring power bills, several European and Asian countries are seeking alternatives to Russian supplies. And using technologies based on solar energy is a comparative quick fix to the energy crisis.
Meanwhile, Solar Appreciation Day 2022 is here, which is celebrated globally on every second Friday of March. The day has become all the more significant amid the ongoing climate and energy crisis. On this day, here are some unique solar technologies that demonstrate the immense potential of solar technologies to address the needs of the modern world.
Solar trolley invented by a farmer from Haryana
Pradeep Kumar, a farmer from Haryana, has built a mobile solar plant with panels mounted on a trolley that can be moved on demand. The trolley is custom made as per the user’s requirements.
In an interview with The Better India, Pradeep said, “the devices come in two sizes and carry solar panels which provide electricity of 2 HP and 10 HP. The trolley can also be mounted to the back of a tractor and has sturdy wheels that allow it to move over uneven surfaces.”
The cost-effective technology has benefitted over 2000 farmers so far.
Bihar’s floating solar power plant
The Mithila region in North Bihar is called the ‘Land of Ponds’ and is taking complete advantage of its gift. A floating solar plant is set to be commissioned in the region, consisting of 4,004 solar modules. Each module lodged in a pond can generate 505-megawatt peak (MWp) electricity and nearly 2 MW of green and clean energy. The plant can supply electricity to 10,000 people in the state.
The main benefit of a floating solar power plant is that the water cools the solar panels, ensuring their efficiency when temperatures rise, resulting in increased power generation. It also minimises evoporation of freshwater and aids fishery.
This innovation has hit two birds with one stone: producing green energy from solar panels and promoting fish farming underwater.
South Korea’s solar shade
In South Korea, a highway runs between Daejon and Sejong and its entire bike lane on the 32 km stretch is covered with solar roof panels. Not only do they generate sufficient electricity, but they also isolate cyclists from traffic and protect them from the sun.
The two-way bike lane is constructed right in the middle of the road, while there are three other lanes for vehicles to travel on either side. This also obstructs the high beam lights of oncoming cars.
Using the technology, the country can intern produce clean, renewable energy.
Solar-powered desalination technique by Chinese and American researchers
Desalination process is considered to be among the most energy-intensive activities. Now researchers have developed a solar desalination process that can treat contaminated water and generate steam for sterilizing medical instruments without requiring any power source other than sunlight itself.
The design includes a dark material that absorbs the sun’s heat and a thin water layer above a perforated material that sits atop a deep reservoir of salty water such as a tank or a pond. The holes allow for a natural convective circulation between the warmer upper layer of water and the colder reservoir below and draw the salt from the water.
Not only is the solar-powered desalination method efficient but also highly cost-effective.
Saudi Arabia’s goal of sustainable development using solar technology
Dry-climate arid regions are prone to droughts and often face water scarcity. While local food production would have been a distant dream for countries that host mostly deserts, scientists in Saudi Arabia have developed a unique solution using solar technology.
In an experiment, they designed a solar-driven system that could successfully cultivate spinach using water drawn from the air while producing electricity. This proof-of-concept design has demonstrated a sustainable, low-cost strategy to improve food and water security for people living in dry-climate regions.
“Our goal is to create an integrated system of clean energy, water, and food production, especially the water-creation part in our design, which sets us apart from current agrophotovoltaics,” says senior researcher Peng Wang.
Greening deserts in which India powers renewable energy ambitions with solar push could be a good inspiring move for all those countries of the MENA region. An initiative commensurate with this country’s Prime Minister’s words at the COP26.
Greening deserts: India powers renewable energy ambitions with solar push.
The image above is of The arid state of Rajasthan, where Bhadla Park takes up an area almost the size of San Marino, sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution, officials say. Image by Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images
The arid state of Rajasthan sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution
As camels munch on the fringes of Thar desert, an oasis of blue solar panels stretches further than the eye can see at Bhadla Park—a cornerstone of India’s bid to become a clean energy powerhouse. Currently, coal powers 70 percent of the nation’s electricity generation, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged that by 2030, India will produce more energy through solar and other renewables than its entire grid now.
“First, India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts… Second, by 2030, 50 percent of our energy requirements will come from renewable resources,” Modi told the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
The arid state of Rajasthan, where Bhadla Park takes up an area almost the size of San Marino, sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution, officials say.
Once an expanse of desert, authorities have capitalised on the sparsely populated area, claiming minimal displacement of local communities. Today robots clean dust and sand off an estimated 10 million solar panels, while a few hundred humans monitor.
This pursuit of a greener future is fuelled by necessity.
India, home to 1.3 billion people and poised to overtake China as the most populous country, has a growing and voracious appetite for energy—but it is also on the frontline of climate change.
In the next two decades, it has to add a power system the size of Europe’s to meet demand for its swelling population, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), but it also has to tackle toxic air quality in its big cities.
“India is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world for climate change and that is why it has this big push on renewables to decarbonise the power sector, but also reduce air pollution,” Arunabha Ghosh, climate policy expert from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, told AFP.
But experts say the country—the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter—is some way from reaching its green targets, with coal set to remain a key part of the energy mix in the coming years.
Although India’s green energy has increased five-fold in just over a decade to 100GW this year, the sector now needs to grow by the same proportion again to meet its 2030 goals.
“I believe this is more of an aspirational target… to show to the world that we are moving in the right direction,” Vinay Rustagi from renewable energy consultancy Bridge to India, told AFP.
“But it would be a big stretch and seems highly unrealistic, in view of various demand and supply challenges,” Rustagi said.
Proponents point to Bhadla Solar Park, one of the largest in the world, as an example of how innovation, technology, and public and private finance can drive swift change.
“We’ve huge chunks of land where there’s not a blade of grass. Now you don’t see the ground anymore. You just see solar panels. It’s such a huge transformation,” Subodh Agarwal, Rajasthan’s additional chief secretary for energy, told AFP.
Authorities are incentivising renewables firms to set up in the region, known as the “desert state”. Agarwal says demand has “accelerated” since 2019.
“It will be a different Rajasthan. It will be the solar state,” he said of the next decade.
If this surge is sustained then coal-fired power for electricity generation could peak by 2024, according to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) projections.
Currently, solar power accounts for four percent of electricity generation. Before Modi’s announcement the IEA estimated solar and coal will converge at around 30 percent each by 2040 based on current policies.
India’s billionaires, including Asia’s two richest men Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, are pledging huge investments, while Modi is setting up a renewables park the size of Singapore in his home state of Gujarat.
Show me the money
But reshaping an entire power network takes time and money, analysts warn.
“India expects developed countries to provide climate finance of $1 trillion at the earliest. Today it is necessary that as we track the progress made in climate mitigation, we should also track climate finance,” he told more than 120 leaders at the critical talks.
Farmer and doctor Amit Singh’s three-acre family farmland in Rajasthan’s Bhaloji village was running out of water and hit by frequent power outages.
“I always saw the sun and its rays and wondered… why not harness it to generate electricity?,” he said.
Singh first installed rooftop panels at his small hospital which generated half of its energy needs.
He then invested family savings into a government-linked project on his land.
The mini-solar farm cost 35 million rupees ($450,000) and Singh sells electricity to the grid for 400,000 rupees a month.
“It’s the ultimate source of energy, which is otherwise going to waste… I feel I’m contributing to the developmental needs of my village,” he added.
Ghosh said it was vital to bring down costs.
“When a farmer is able to generate power from their solar plant near their farm and pump out water—we are then able to bring the energy transition closer to the people,” he added.
Pratibha Pai, the founder-director of Chirag Rural Development Foundation which has brought solar to more than 100,000 villagers, believes in clean energy’s transformative role.
She said: “We start with solar power… we end with safe drinking water, power for dark village roads, power for little rural schools which will hopefully script the story of a ‘big’ India.”
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