The “Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park” in the United Arab Emirates has started to take shape, and the scale of the construction as seen through satellite images is already jaw-dropping. The park extends in an area of 77 square kilometers, located south of the city of Dubai. For comparison, the largest solar park right now is the India-based Pavagada Solar Park, covering a land area of 53 square kilometers. As for the planned capacity, this will be record-breaking as well, reaching a final 5000 megawatts by 2030. The record holder for the most powerful park right now is the Tengger Desert Solar Park in China, with a capacity of 1547 megawatts.
Of course, one can’t just go ahead and build an enormous solar park. The Al Maktoum park has been under development since 2012, and 2.3 million photovoltaic panels have already been installed, outputting 213 megawatts. The current phase of construction will add another 3 million panels, taking the total capacity to 1013 megawatts by the year 2020. The final stage which is scheduled for completion in 2030 will reach the nominal estimated output to 5 gigawatts, a record that will be hard to break for anyone, including the ever-investing UAE.
To get the most out of the collected energy, the particular plant will deploy the tallest “CSP” (concentrated solar power) tower in the world, reaching a height of 260 meters (853 feet). The engineers will place thousands of mirrors to focus the collected sunlight at the top of the tower, which will heat the contained molten salts. This way, the collected sunlight will be stored in the form of heat that is used to power steam turbines, and thus generate electricity. This method is much better than using batteries to store electric energy, and ten times cheaper as well.
As for the challenge of the dust accumulation on the panels, the team is processing methods of novel panel coating technologies, and also a robotic dry cleaning system that will wipe the panels’ surface periodically.
Image Courtesy: Perovo Solar Park