The international launch of Masdar’s Solar Hub has taken place at Intersolar North America, the most attended conference and the premier networking platform for the North American solar industry. Currently ongoing in San Francisco, California this week from July 14 to 16, Intersolar North America brings together businesses and leaders from the most important markets around the globe.
Another milestone in this United Arab Emirates’ Year of Innovation, the Solar Hub, located in Masdar City, was created by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s pioneering renewable energy company, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. With the UAE’s goal to become one of the most innovative nations in the globe within seven years, the hub adds to the nation’s innovation agenda by expediting the development of new solar technologies suitable for harsh desert environments. This facility is the first independent high quality solar testing and R&D facility in the region. And capitalising on the UAE’s strengths as a renewable energy hub, the facility gives the global solar industry a foundation for research, new product development and collaboration with local and international companies.
“Renewables comprise one of the UAE’s key national innovation strategy sectors, and it is our mandate to support Abu Dhabi’s growth as a global innovation focal point,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar. “Masdar’s Solar Hub, our company’s newest initiative, will prove invaluable to the solar industry’s entire value chain while enhancing Masdar City’s reputation as a leading clean technology cluster and innovation ecosystem.
“The opportunity to evaluate and support new solar products at the hub will significantly boost Abu Dhabi’s research and development capacity by attracting top solar developers, driving the local market, and strengthening human capital through practical research projects that have economic impact,” added Dr Belhoul.
Masdar took the opportunity at Intersolar North America to showcase the Solar Hub’s offerings during the three day conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The facility provides solar companies across the industry’s entire value chain unbiased research, development, testing, evaluation and certification of solar technologies and systems. The hub will also offer consulting and information services, further positioning Masdar City as a centre of thought leadership within the global clean technology sector.
Conference attendees also learned how the Solar Hub will enable industry researchers to enhance their testing in order to create the most efficient solar technologies so that they can operate at maximum capacity under extraordinary environmental conditions. Such optimisation is crucial in the Middle East, where solar installations are subjected to elevated levels of sand and dust, very high solar irradiance and heat that can reach up to 50°C. Therefore, these extreme conditions in Abu Dhabi will help drive new innovations in the solar industry, leading to new and innovative developments in solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and thermal energy storage technologies.
To that end, during this week in San Francisco, Dr Alexander Ritschel, Senior Manager of Masdar Special Projects, has highlighted Solar Hub’s overall potential. He spoke to attendees about the hub in parallel with other Masdar programmes that have elevated the company’s reputation as a renewable energy innovation leader. Outlining the close links between energy and water, Dr Ritschel also brought attention to additional Masdar offerings, including the renewable energy-powered seawater desalination technology demonstration projects in Ghantoot, located in the northern part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The importance of the Solar Hub to the development of the solar industry in the Middle East has been underscored by recent research conducted by Masdar Institute. The Institute’s Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment (RECREMA) has shown that in the UAE, the characteristics of the solar irradiance is vastly different than what satellite data typically reveals about the region—further necessitating why an on-the-ground facility such as the Solar Hub is needed in Abu Dhabi.