Where in the World is the Largest Single-Site Solar Array?






December 18, 2019                                                                                                                                                                               Home

Last month we had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East.  We spent the most time in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Our son is teaching there this year.   

Abu Dhabi city skyline

The two largest cities in the UAE are Abu Dhabi and nearby Dubai.  Forty years ago, these two cities were pretty much non-existent, mostly inhabited by fishermen and seasonal bedouins.  The UAE is almost entirely desert.  Now both cities have populations of close to 2 million.  There is not a building in either city that is over 40 years old. 

This amazing growth is a result of oil development. How much oil is available?  Consider this:  Abu Dhabi has an area of 375 square miles.  Hancock County has an area of 223 square miles.  Claiborne County has an area of 435 square miles.  And Abu Dhabi has 6% of the world’s oil capacity.

Abu Dhabi has used oil income to build a modern city, with well organized traffic patterns and highways connecting the capital to smaller cities and towns.  Education and healthcare receive major funding. Skyscrapers and malls are everywhere.  Per capita income is $61,000.  There is no income tax.  On the fun side, one of the world’s largest water parks is open all year round.  Neighboring Dubai has an entire ski slope with ski lift (and penguins) in a huge enclosed area in a shopping mall – basically in the desert.

In the past few years Abu Dhabi (which already desalinates all of its water supply) has realized major changes are needed to prepare for the future, diversify its economy, and work to reduce carbon emissions.  One way it does this is by actively promoting solar power – for individual homeowners, businesses, and for the state’s power supply.  

Currently, Abu Dhabi has the world’s largest single site solar array.  It provides power for 90,000 people.  We drove by the site and saw acres and acres of panels. This plant reduces Abu Dhabi’s CO2 emissions by 1 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.  Here is an information link:  https://gulfnews.com/uae/worlds-largest-solar-project-with-power-enough-for-90000-people-switched-on-in-abu-dhabi 

And, by the way, Abu Dhabi is beginning construction of an even larger solar facility that will provide power for 200,000 residents.  This site is financed by China and Japan – not the USA.    https://www.thenational.ae/business/construction-begins-at-abu-dhabi-s-largest-solar-power-project-1.32040

Why is it that TVA and the US cannot take similar active steps to reduce CO2 emissions and provide manufacturing, construction and technical jobs for our citizens?  True, TVA is adding a tiny amount of solar and wind power to its mix. But, where is the energy and commitment that provided electricity throughout the Tennessee Valley in the 1930s and led to the creation of our existing electric cooperatives?  

Why are we not supporting existing technology for major increases in solar and wind power?  Check out this article, examining costs and concluding that building a new wind or solar power plant costs less than maintaining an existing coal-fired plant: https://microgridknowledge.com/renewables-cost-ders-fossil/

Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative. For more information, go to pve.coop.

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