The ACWA Power International is a Saudi Arabian-based developer, investor, and operator of a range of power and desalinated water production plants in 11 countries, including in the Middle East, Southern Africa, North Africa, and South East Asia regions. One of the company’s foremost solar power ventures is set to make electricity available at nighttime, is planned for the Dubai and will cost an estimated $1bn.
According to news reports, the scheme, scheduled for launch in 2021, is equipped to deliver 200 megawatts to Dubai’s grid from 4pm to 10am. This replaces producing electricity via photovoltaic cells (PV solar panels).
A PV cell or solar cell (once referred to as a solar battery) is an electrical device that transforms the energy of light straight into electricity via a chemical and physical occurrence (the photovoltaic effect). PV cells are the building blocks of PV solar panels.
Rather than creating electricity by means of PV solar panels, ACWA’s system uses mirrors to focus the sun’s vitality to heat water. This heat is deposited in boiling salt and then a steam is created that propels a turbine. In fact, it can heat the salt to an astounding 490 degrees Celsius.
According to Paddy Padmanathan, ACWA’s chief executive backing the venture, this method is expected to become increasingly prevalent globally. He predicts that inside of 18 months, condensed solar power will go one-on-one with, if not outpace, the use of joined cycle gas. To-date batteries and photovoltaic have held the spotlight, however there is a ceiling on the duration of time they can keep a charge. The ACWA is showing proof that concentrated solar power (CSP) can operate throughout the night.
The competition is also not a challenge as just another two enterprises currently supply devices driven by solar CSP, with the others having gone belly up. There are however several Chinese companies testing the market.
To-date ACWA has constructed CSP factories in South Africa and Morocco and has Saudi Arabia as its beeline for the construction of an additional plant. They are positive that the State will ultimately go for a CSP scheme given its cost competitiveness. However, plummeting costs for the rival PV solar panel system of employing the energy generated by the sun, is a reality.