Open sea floating solar array set to power Abu Dhabi resort island

The Abu Dhabi resort island of Nurai has bolstered the solar component of its hybrid renewables microgrid – but having run out of space on land and on building rooftops, has opted to float the new PV array on the sea.

The floating solar array, which is being described as the region’s “first near-shore, open-sea” PV structure, was this week towed into place on the waters of a bay in the Arabian Gulf.

The developers behind the 80kW project, Dubai-based company Enerwhere, say they are now preparing to connect it up to the rooftop and ground-mounted solar already installed on the island to help power its 5-star resort.

Little detail about the system has been formally published, although LinkedIn posts by Enerwhere CEO Stefan Muekstein (and others) suggest it is the company’s first foray into floating solar – and certainly its first on salt water.

Muekstein has promised to release more detailed information about the project in coming weeks, and to share any learnings on the impact of the sea water environment on the panels and their output.

According to the website of the Zaya Nurai Island resort, the solar installed by Enerwhere before the addition of the floating PV array generated 35 per cent of the man-made island’s energy needs, with the remainder coming from “efficient electronic fuel injection” diesel generators.

Zaya Nuria Island

It is unclear at this stage how much the new floating PV array will add to the island’s solar supply.

As Greentech Media observed in August last year, there has been growing interest in offshore solar, including from a Belgian consortium proposing to build a solar farm in the North Sea, in combination with offshore wind or aquaculture.

The idea has also been pursued in the United Arab Emirates, where the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) last June issued a request for proposals to study, develop and construct floating solar photovoltaic plants in the Arabian Gulf.

Whether the Nurai Island project has come about off the back of this government initiative is also unclear.

While we wait to learn more about this fascinating project, please enjoy the above and below videos of the making and mooring of the floating solar plant.

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