The 1GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the United Arab Emirates has reportedly begun powering the production of aluminium, a world first and a major milestone on the path to decarbonising the global manufacturing industry.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) jointly announced this week that the Mohammed bin Rashid solar project in Dubai had started generating electricity for EGA’s aluminium smelter, providing 560,000 megawatt-hours of power each year, sufficient for the production of 40,000 tonnes of aluminium.
Moreover, according to the announcement there is “the potential for significant expansion” in the amount of aluminium produced from the solar generated electricity, thanks in large part to the planned expansion of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park – the 1,013MW project is expected to expand to 5GW by 2030.
The solar electricity being supplied for the aluminium production, dubbed CelestiAL solar aluminium by EGA, is being sourced through the Dubai electricity grid and tracked and traced through the use of the International Renewable Energy Certification System.
“Aluminium is lightweight, strong and infinitely recyclable metal and these properties mean that as a material it plays a vital global role in the development of a sustainable future,” said Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, Chief Executive Officer of EGA.
“However, it also matters how sustainably aluminium is made. CelestiAL aluminium, made in the UAE with solar power, will help make modern life possible for people around the world whilst protecting our planet for future generations. This is a great milestone for the UAE and our industry.”
It is worth highlighting just how important this announcement is, showing as it does just how flexible solar power and other renewable energy sources can be.
Industry and materials production such as aluminium has traditionally relied upon the consistent generation of fossil fuel-powered electricity generation under the assumption that no other forms of generation can supply the massive energy capacities required.
However, as renewable energy and solar generation in particular become more commonplace and robust, they have shown the lie of this assumption and have opened the way for future transformation of the global energy sector.
“This global achievement of both DEWA and EGA confirms our firm commitment to achieving the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in building a green economy in UAE, and reaching the goals of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 in diversifying energy sources and providing 75% of Dubai’s energy production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA and vice chairman of EGA.
“To achieve these goals, we have launched many initiatives and projects, most notably the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest single-site solar energy project in the world in with a capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. The solar park projects use photovoltaic panels and concentrated solar energy technologies.”
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is currently made up of a 13MW first phase which became operational in 2013, a 200MW second phase which entered operation in 2017, and an 800MW third phase which became operational in 2020.
The fourth phase of the project will consist of the world’s largest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project in a hybrid solar project made up of 600MW from a parabolic basin complex, 100MW from a solar tower, and 250MW from photovoltaic panels.
The fifth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid project will consist of 900MW of solar.