ARKANSAS, Nov 19 (Future Headlines)- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially launched the Al Dhafra solar farm, claiming the title of the world’s largest single-site solar farm. This significant renewable energy project, with a capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW), is strategically situated 22 miles (35 km) from Abu Dhabi. The solar farm features nearly 4 million bifacial solar panels and is expected to power almost 200,000 homes while annually eliminating over 2.4 million tons of carbon emissions.
Positioned 22 miles from Abu Dhabi, the solar farm’s strategic location enhances its contribution to the energy needs of the region. The project incorporates almost 4 million bifacial solar panels, leveraging advanced technology to capture sunlight from both the front and rear sides of the panels. The solar farm is projected to power nearly 200,000 homes, significantly contributing to the UAE’s renewable energy goals.
Al Dhafra is expected to eliminate over 2.4 million tons of carbon emissions annually, aligning with global efforts to mitigate climate change. The construction phase of the solar farm generated approximately 4,500 jobs at its peak, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy. During construction, the solar panels were installed at an average rate of 10 megawatts (MW) per day, highlighting the efficiency of the project’s implementation.
The solar farm was developed through collaboration between Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), French power company EDF Renewables, and Chinese solar developer JinkoPower. TAQA holds a 40% ownership stake, while Masdar, EDF Renewables, and Jinko Power each own 20%. Al Dhafra will supply power to Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) based on a power purchase agreement established in 2020.
- UAE’s Solar Capacity and Future Plans
With the inauguration of Al Dhafra, the UAE’s total solar power production capacity has now reached 3.2 GW. The UAE has set ambitious renewable energy targets, aiming to triple its capacity to 14 GW by 2030. In September, Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) invited proposals for the development of a 1.5 GW solar farm in Al Khazna, near Abu Dhabi, indicating the nation’s commitment to expanding its renewable energy portfolio.
The unveiling of the world’s largest solar farm comes just ahead of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), which the UAE is hosting in Dubai, starting on November 30. This strategic timing enhances the country’s positive global image in the renewable energy sector.
The UAE has faced criticism for appointing the CEO of its state oil company, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to lead COP28. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding the country’s energy strategy, which includes a mix of 44% clean energy, 38% gas, 12% “clean coal,” and 6% nuclear by 2050. Critics question the feasibility of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 while relying on 50% fossil fuels.
The inauguration of the Al Dhafra solar farm marks a significant milestone in the global transition toward renewable energy. As the world’s largest single-site solar project, it not only contributes substantially to the UAE’s renewable energy capacity but also showcases the country’s commitment to sustainable and cleaner energy sources. The project’s impact on reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs, and powering homes underscores the multifaceted benefits of large-scale solar initiatives in addressing both environmental and economic challenges.
Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White