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UAE and region must exploit solar power to replace oil

Employees examine the solar panels at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. Less than 15 per cent of solar energy potential is currently being utilised in the region.(EB FILE)

By Abdel Hai Mohamad

????The UAE and the region have great potential to generate solar power and export it outside the region, according to an eminent Arab scientist.

Speaking to Emirates Business on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Dr Farouk Al Baz, Principal of Boston University's Space Research Centre, said: "Gulf countries should look for another source of energy to replace oil and continue to supply the world with energy. This source is the sun and the region enjoys long hours of strong uninterrupted sunlight.

"Solar power projects are necessary – even vital – for the Gulf and a matter of life or death for the region."

Al Baz is a global authority in his field and is regarded as one of the foremost Arab scientists in the world.

"Oil will definitely run out in the Gulf within a 100 or a maximum of 200 years and it is a non-renewable resource, while the strong shining sun is almost an eternal source of energy. The GCC countries should direct their efforts towards solar power immediately so that they can maintain a reserve quantity of oil from the currently available levels. The more they preserve oil now and sell it in the future, the better for them and their future," he said.

"The cost of any project for the production of electricity from the sun in the GCC countries might not be less than $20 billion (Dh73.4bn). This cost is not high for countries that have huge fund reserves. Oil's financial revenues are huge. It is better to direct this towards this huge and vital project instead of spending it on the purchase of aircraft and weapons.

"The cost of generating solar power falls with time and with increase in demand. In addition, the entry of more than one GCC country into this field will definitely lead to the reduction of prices and production costs."

Al Baz said GCC countries need to set up more than one centre for solar energy research. Through their research, these centres will attempt to reduce the cost of production and create a scientific base. If GCC countries manage only to create a scientific base, this will be enough for them. "The region and the Arab World are in need of huge numbers of scientists and researchers. We should not refrain from spending on the building of such a scientific base."

He said though the Gulf region has year-round strong sunshine due to its proximity to the equator, less than 15 per cent of it is utilised in solar complexes. Countries in the region should expand their solar power complexes to raise this percentage to 27 immediately before increasing it to 50 per cent in the near future.

"Masdar is making great efforts in this regard. It is heavily involved in research in Masdar City to produce solar power and has made noticeable progress in this regard. Masdar's success is a source of pride for all Arabs," said Al Baz.


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