Solar power can profit the Middle East's construction contractors
Once viewed as an alternative power source, solar energy is rapidly gaining favour with forward-looking construction contractors, such as CCC and ALEC
While the benefits of solar power in the utilities segment have been widely discussed around the globe, the technology’s large-scale deployment in the Middle East is a relatively recent development. In December 2007, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) released a tender for the design, supply, installation, and operation of the first-ever solar power plant to be built in the Gulf. The $350m (AED1.28bn) plant was part of Abu Dhabi’s drive to reduce dependence on hydrocarbon power.
Indeed, organisations such as Masdar and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) are responsible for some of the largest solar power projects, not only in the UAE, but across the Middle East. Stage 1 of the 800MW Phase 3 of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park (MBR Solar Park), which is being developed by DEWA, was launched this May, work is well under way on the project’s $3.9bn (AED14.2bn) Phase 4. An engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the fourth phase was signed this April between Saudi Arabia-headquartered co-developer ACWA Power, and China-based Shanghai Electric, which is acting as the project’s main contractor.
MBR Solar Park’s updates came days after a memorandum of understanding was signed to develop Solar Power Project 2030, the world’s largest solar park, in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund has teamed up with Japanese conglomerate Softbank to develop the project.
These macro-level developments are impressive in both size and scale, and underscore the growing recognition of alternative power sources in the Middle East. However, the increasing adoption of solar power by the regional construction sector is an equally encouraging trend.
The most recent example of this is the solar-powered mobile cabin developed by Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) for its site staff. Last week, CCC revealed that it worked with Germany-based Tesvolt to develop the 24-hour solar-powered office and accommodation cabin. The facility meets “day and night energy demands”, according to the contractor, which told Construction Week that two of the cabins are currently located in Muscat, and units are due to be launched soon in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
CCC said the facility is in line with the firm’s goal of providing “efficient and reliable methods of cooling for workers”. The off-grid solar system is expected to provide long-term ecological and financial benefits to CCC, and the company told Construction Week
that it expects the production costs for the facility to decrease in tandem with the reducing prices of photovoltaic and lithium-ion battery technologies.
CCC is one of the several high-profile construction companies, such as Dubai-headquartered ALEC, that are actively pursuing long-term business and operational gains through the use of solar power. The alternative power source is rapidly becoming a conventional option, and construction leaders that recognise this will note growth in the years to come.