The waters of the Persian Gulf are dotted with oil and gas rigs, drilling below the sea to pump hydrocarbons to the surface. Soon, however, they may be the location for a more environmentally-sustainable energy source.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) says it is thinking about developing floating renewable energy plants in the Persian Gulf. On June 9 it launched a search for consultants who can advise it on the idea.

The utility company’s plans fit in with the wider ambitions of Dubai’s government to develop its renewable energy resources. The city-state – which, unlike neighbouring Abu Dhabi, has relatively little oil or gas – is following a plan known as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 which aims to ensure that 75% of its total power output comes from clean energy sources by 2050.

To reach that target, the authorities estimate they will need to have 42GW of clean electricity-generating capacity in place by then. Some large projects are already being developed to help reach that goal, including the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park on the desert outskirts of the city – believed to be the largest single-site solar energy project in the world. The first few phases of that are already up and running, but it is still being expanded, with the aim of having 5GW of installed capacity on site by 2030, at a total cost of around AED50 billion ($13.6 billion).

Now, DEWA has asked consultants to bid for a contract to advise it on developing and constructing solar photovoltaic (PV) plants out at sea. The contract will cover a wide range of areas, including feasibility studies and an environmental impact assessment report. What isn’t yet known is how much offshore solar capacity Dubai is planning to develop or exactly where it will build it.

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