In Part 1 interview with H.H Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, a fruitful discussion about the Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park’s updates in Phase 3 and the entire plant were discussed. H.H focused on the major innovations and characteristics of phase 3 as it inaugurated in November 2020.
In Part 2, MESIA had the pleasure to interview Fawaz Al Muharrami, Acting Executive Director, Clean Energy at Masdar to dig deeper into the impact of COVID19 and digital solutions implemented in the project.
1. Fawaz Al Muharrami, what are the major highlights the project will provide as a whole and how much power and peak power will Phase 3 generate?
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is a landmark project for the United Arab Emirates. It contributes significantly to Dubai’s goal of providing 75 percent of its total power capacity from clean energy by 2050. The 800-megawatt (MW) Phase 3 of the park is delivering almost 2,200 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year, powering 240,000 homes in Dubai. The third phase also displaces over 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is the equivalent of removing 300,000 cars off the roads.
Phase 3 is the first facility of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region to use single-axis solar tracking that tracks the path of the sun to increase energy generation. It also uses other innovative technologies including cleaning robots for photovoltaic panels to increase the plant’s efficiency.
With an installed peak capacity of one-gigawatt (GWdc), the project uses three different technologies including bi-facial solar photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on trackers, which helps to maximize output. At the time of construction, the plant was the largest in the region to use tracking technology.
2. What are the main challenges the MBR Solar Park has faced and how did COVID 19 impact the project?
Let me start with COVID-19; Phase 3 was at the end of the commissioning phase of the final stage of the project when the COVID-19 pandemic started and thus had a limited impact on the project. We immediately implemented the business continuity management (BCM) plan, starting with the safety of the personnel on the plant including the construction and operations teams.
The biggest challenge in developing the project has been the logistics of building a solar power plant with over three million modules, the required additional equipment, and thousands of workers on a site with a total surface area of 16-square kilometers.
Other challenges included the extreme weather conditions that are typical of a desert climate, including temperatures that reach 50 degrees Celsius and frequent sandstorms that can impact the efficiency of the panels.
3. As digitalization is playing a major role in solar plants, how is the MBR Solar Plant Phase 3 implementing smarter solutions?
The project has implemented innovative and smarter solutions in the form of robots that clean the solar panels without the need for water. Using digitalization, we’ve also performed extensive analysis and forecasting systems on the local weather conditions and sandstorms to assess the best schedule for cleaning that would ensure optimum performance at any given time.
Phase 3 also uses an advanced centralized and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system that controls the full 800 MW central operations and maintenance building located in stage B of the phase.
Stay tuned for the final interview with EDF Renewables to shed light on the MBR Solar Park Phase 3 project features and technologies of the plant.
Research and Content Manager