Sunshine states: stunning solar projects around the world

Vision rounds up the five most innovative new projects in emerging solar markets from Dubai to Mumbai

The UAE is au fait with galactic journeys. But while it will take the Emirates Mars Mission another five years to arrive at the fourth planet from the sun during the UAE's 50th anniversary year, it only takes mere moments to power Dubai's electricity from the star itself.

The region is still within the 'belts' of both oil and sun, says Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), that recently announced a new solar-power plant to be built in Dubai in order to diversify energy options in the emirate. 

Dh50 billion will be invested in the 800-megawatt power project that will produce electricity at an average cost of 2.99 cents a kilowatt hour, substantially below what even coal-fired power plants charge. 

The aim is to generate a total of 5,000 megawatts of power by 2030 at the desert solar park, helping provide 25 percent of the emirate’s electricity from clean energy sources. 

The UAE are not the only innovators in this area. Vision rounds up the pioneers in the field...

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Germany is known as a ‘solar super power’ – 50 per cent of its electricity in 2014 was renewable

San Francisco 

New landmark legislation requires all new buildings under 10 storeys in height to wear rooftop solar panels in California’s largest tech city.

‘It's a step toward San Francisco's goal of meeting the city's electrical demands with 100 percent renewable energy’, says Scott Weiner, the city supervisor responsible for introducing the bill.

‘Activating underutilized roof space is a smart and efficient way to promote the use of solar energy and improve our environment’.

The metropolis is the largest in the US to mandate solar installations on new properties and builds on existing Californian state law that says all new buildings should have at least 15 per cent of roof space exposed to sunshine to be ‘solar ready’.

San Francisco has a target to source 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. 

Mumbai

Piyush Goyal is an energy minister on a mission. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently responded to his Green Port Initiative for ‘cleaner and greener’ airports through the use of renewable energy technology.

Up to 143 airports across India plan to launch a cumulative solar power capacity of 148 MW. In addition, 12 Indian shipping ports, among them Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata will install 82/64 MW of solar power plants from the Shipping Ministry’s own funds.

There is also a plan to pursue floating solar power projects on a large scale across the country, and especially in areas where land availability for setting up utility-scale solar power projects is a problem.

India expects to add as much as 5.4 giga watt (GW) of solar capacity in 2016, making it the fourth-largest solar market globally. The country currently has a total capacity of 7.8 GW of solar power in comparison to the US which boasts 25 GW. 

Beijing

Under its 13th Five year Plan, China will triple solar capacity by 2020, adding 15-30 GW of solar capacity year on year to combat coal-fired air pollution.

But that is not enough for the ambitious world leader. 2050, the country hopes to lead efforts to build a $50 trillion global wind and solar power grid that would completely change how the world is powered.

According to the World Economic Forum, the project won't just be about connecting countries' energy grids, but actually generating enough power to run the world. China hopes to connect wind farms in the Arctic Circle with solar farms located on the Equator, in a system that will transcend national boundaries and provide clean energy everywhere.

Berlin

Germany is known as a ‘solar super power’ – 50 per cent of its electricity in 2014 was renewable.

The Ministry of Science Technology recently invented a ‘Solar Power Tree’ to generate solar electricity in a confined space. The model takes up four square feet and is built like a tree with steel branches to hold its photovoltaic panel.

Minister Harsh Vardhan said the tree holds the panels at a higher height and so receives more sun by the hour in a day, in comparison to that of a conventional 400 square foot layout on the ground.

‘This could also be rotated so that the photovoltaic panel get more sunlight. Thus, it is possible to harness 10-15 per cent more power’, he said. 

The Inter Solar Middle East Exhibition takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from September 19-21, 2016