Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) have achieved a sustainability milestone in enabling the production of aluminum using solar power — making the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the first country in the world to do so.
Harnessing the Sun
The availability of solar power on the scale needed for aluminum smelting is thanks to the UAE’s significant investment in solar power. DEWA and its Independent Power Producer (IPP) partners inaugurated the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, located in Dubai, in November 2020. The third phase brought online 800 MW of power, bringing total installed capacity at the park to 1,013 MW — making it the largest single-site solar park in the world.
The solar power facility is also the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, implementing advanced technologies, such as single-axis solar tracking to increase energy generation and cleaning robots for photovoltaic panels to increase efficiency.
Currently, DEWA is working to implement an additional 1,850 megawatts of projects using solar panels and concentrated solar power (CSP). Eventually, this capacity will reach 5,000MW by 2030.
DEWA will supply EGA’s smelter with 560,000 MW hours of solar power yearly from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. This is sufficient to make 40,000 tonnes of aluminum in the first year with the potential for significant expansion. EGA will supply solar aluminum to global customers under the new product name CelestiAL.
EGA’s sourcing of solar power from Dubai’s electricity grid will be tracked and traced through the use of the International Renewable Energy Certification System, ensuring that the energy used to produce EGA’s CelestiAL solar aluminum has been sourced from the sun.
“Aluminum 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 aluminum is made. CelestiAL, aluminum 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.”
National Sustainability Goals
The expansion of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and the use of its solar power to produce aluminum is in line with sustainability goals presented by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The aim is to transform the UAE into a green economy and make Dubai the most sustainable city in the world.
As part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the UAE is working to diversify energy sources and providing 75% of Dubai’s energy production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. “To achieve these goals, we have launched many initiatives and projects, most notably the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA and vice chairman of EGA. “The new achievement contributes to supporting our efforts in reducing carbon emissions through the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy. Dubai reduced 22% in carbon emissions in 2019 compared to business as usual. Results achieved exceeded the targets set in the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 16% by 2021.”