Solar power takes off as rising oil price forces energy rethink

New R&D facility signals rise in solar energy

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By  Alison Luke Published  August 10, 2006

The region’s first research and development centre for designing and building solar power plants is to be located at the Dubai Techno Park. Solar Technologies FZE has signed a deal worth AED50 million to invest in a facility over 37,000 m2 for the development of high technology solar energy products and solutions. The firm plans to design and assemble large-scale solar thermal solutions including power plants and air conditioning solutions for medium and large-scale projects. Target clients will include energy and water distribution firms, real estate developments, industrial facilities and energy projects in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. This is the second high profile solar development at the Dubai Techno Park. Pacific Control Systems’ Green Building headquarters is already under construction and is due to be operational in November 2006. The first building in the Middle East to be awarded the US Green Building Certificate, it will include 100 kW of solar energy for lighting and air conditioning. Pacific Control Systems communications manager Varsha Rajesh explained: “The company chose to use solar power to demonstrate its environmentally friendly commitment. We are the 16th in the world to get the platinum rating from the USGBC (US Green Building Council) and achieved well over the rating that we needed.” The design of the Pacific Controls hq emphasises key features of sustainable site development, water and energy efficiency and recycling. It will house a research and development center for the Middle East automation business that will also develop eco-friendly solutions and products for global markets. The use of solar power in the region is expected to develop rapidly over the coming years. Eng Yahya Lootah, vice chairman of S S Lootah Group reports: “New energy technologies will dramatically alter our reliance on power generated from traditional energy sources and fossil fuels. Embracing and adopting new energy technologies is the key to achieving sustainable economic progress in the 21st century.” Forecasts suggest that by 2050 renewable energy sources will supply almost 50% of UAE’s total energy needs, with solar energy predicted to account for the majority of this supply.

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