Dubai, UAE, 7 June 2018: Following completion of 200 MW in the first stage of the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Fawaz Hadi Salem Ali Al Muharrami, Head of Project Delivery, Masdar, spoke on how the project is one of the first in the Middle East to use dry cleaning technology. “It is basically using a robotic system to clean the panels without using a drop of water,” Al Muharrami said. “It is environmentally good, as well as a cost-effective solution for the project. We have more than 40-50 robots to clean the models, reducing a lot of cost in the operation phase of the project,” he added. The robotic system, Muharrami said, will be implemented across the third phase’s planned 800 MW. Another unique feature, he said, is a tracking technology to follow the path of the sun, “which basically allows us to produce more energy”.
Muharrami said though these features were designed for the project, they can be replicated in other PV projects. He added that for the solar park, in particular, the robots were designed specifically to manage the different types of panel, which are lightweight and, thus, cannot accommodate heavy systems, else they crack the model. “You need to be a little bit more careful,” Muharrami said, “and you need to design specifically for the model. You have to get the certification approved from the supplier of the model on cleaning robots.”
Muharrami emphasised how the price of the solar park, in breaking the USD 30 per megawatt hour mark, set an industry benchmark. “At the time we bid, it was the world record,” he said, “and it was significantly lower than the previous one. It has driven all investors to really innovate and think of other ways to reduce the cost.” For this project, he added, the robotic system is only one in a number of factors in the move to drive the price down, emphasising the project’s holistic design and construction approach to ensure optimisation of capex and opex.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org