The firms working with Masdar in the pursuit of cleaner technologies
Utilities Middle East reviews some of the firms working alongside Masdar in the pursuit of new technologies for the clean energy industry
At the beginning of January, GE announced that it had become an anchor partner in the Masdar City project.
The two companies released plans to house a new Ecomagination Centre in the city, as part of GE’s wider collaboration with Abu Dhabi investment and development giant Mubadala. At around 4,000 square metres in size, the centre will showcase GE clean tech products and should provide a location where both firms can explore areas of collaboration with regard to research and development.
One of the most recent fruits of the partnership saw Masdar sign a link-up deal with GE Consumer & Industrial that has launched a pilot programme to investigate the reduction of peak power demand through the use of smart home appliances.
As part of its investment into overseas technology, Masdar announced in May that it was teaming up with E.ON and Chinese firm DONG Energy to invest US $3.3 billion in the world’s largest wind farm. The money is being spent on the roll-out of the 650MW first phase of the London Array site, which is in the Thames Estuary.
It is hoped that the project will supply enough power for around 750,000 homes – or a quarter of Greater London – and displace around 1.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Onshore work on the project has already begun, with offshore work expected to start in early 2011. The consortium hopes that the 175-turbine first phase will be completed in 2012, with later capacity due to exceed 1,000MW.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “The London Array is a flagship project in our drive to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 and meet future energy needs. E.ON, DONG Energy and Masdar are to be congratulated for their work on the London Array.”
Formed by a partnership between Spanish engineering and consultancy firm Sener and Masdar in March 2008, Torresol Energy is designed to promote the development and exploitation of large and and cost-efficient solar thermal energy plants across southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the US south-west.
Torresol’s portfolio of Spanish projects includes Gemasolar – a 17MW plant based on central tower technology – and Valle 1 and 2, two parabolic trough
In the Middle East, Torresol is building a tower power plant in Abu Dhabi, and hopes to build another three CSP plants before 2012. In the US, the firm is planning to establish an agreement with a renewable energy company to start the design of at least one CSP plant in the south-east of the country.
In January this year, Masdar awarded a contract to US firm First Solar to supply 5MW of its thin film solar modules to be a part of the longest grid-connected PV network in the Middle East, supplying power to the Masdar development.
“First Solar is changing the way the world is powered by creating truly sustainable solar energy solutions,” said Jos van der Hyden, First Solar’s vice president for business development, EMEA. “First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive PV system solutions. By constantly decreasing manufacturing costs, First Solar is creating an affordable and environmentally responsible alternative to fossil-fuel generation. First Solar set the benchmark for environmentally responsible product life cycle management by introducing the industry’s first prefunded, comprehensive collection and recycling programme for solar modules.”
In June this year, Abu Dhabi-based solar integrator Environmena announced that it had completed the 10MW Masdar solar power plant, the largest grid-connected solar system in the Middle East and North Africa region. The 55-acre project comprises 87,777 PV modules and can produce 17,500 MWh of clean energy annually, offsetting around 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Worth US $50.4 million, Environmena says the plant is one of the most cost-effective PV installations in the world.
“We are delighted that the plant is performing as expected and that we were able to deliver the installation on budget and on schedule,” said Environmena vice president Sander Trestain. “This facility proves that utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy projects are feasible in Abu Dhabi and the wider region.”
Hydrogen Energy, itself a joint venture consisting of British supermajor BP and Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, unveiled the world’s largest carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) scheme in January 2008. Abu Dhabi’s state-owned hydrocarbons company ADNOC is also involved in a scheme that is designed to enhance oil recovery from fields by injecting carbon dioxide into wells. The gas would then be permanently stored underground.
But earlier this year, a representative from BP told local media that a decision as to whether to go ahead with the US $2 billion project had been postponed to the end of 2010. The delay means that it is unlikely that the CCS development will be the first to go into commercial production, although it is still likely to be the world’s largest by the time it comes online.
One of Masdar’s more recent partnerships was cemented in August this year, when it teamed up with chemicals giant BASF, which has been named as a ‘preferred supplier’ of construction materials and system solutions for the city’s construction. BASF will also open an office in the development on completion.
BASF has cited its numerous ‘green products’ as being a factor behind the collaboration. These include products made from polystyrene and polyurethane for the manufacture of insulating foams for thermal insulation. Phase-change materials integrated into plaster or gypsum wall boards can be used as an alternative to air conditioning. In addition, black pigments in roof coatings prevent dark surfaces from heating up, and BASF also promotes the use of concrete manufacturing processes that lower carbon emissions by up to 60%.
Masdar and ADNOC are working together on a number of major initiatives that are designed to reduce carbon emissions from Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas facilities. As part of the partnership, which was announced in January 2009, Masdar is identifying and developing a portfolio of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, as set out by the Kyoto Protocol. ADNOC has five CDM projects under way, with the capacity to reduce 4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. “ADNOC’s partnership raises the bar for oil firms looking to reduce their carbon footprint. We are proud to work with Masdar so that the CDM can be used to support our efforts to reduce environmental impact and ensure a sustainable future for the industry,” said HE Yousef Omair Bin Yousef, ADNOC’s chief executive officer.
German applied research organisation Fraunhofer Gesellschaft inked a partnership with Masdar in June 2009 to develop a Sustainable Cities Research Centre to be based in the Abu Dhabi project.
The research centre will focus on critical technologies for sustainable cities of the future including solar energy, energy-efficient buildings, water and desalination technologies, cooling technologies, intelligent electricity supply concepts, electro-mobility and carbon footprint measurement and evaluation,” said Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber. “The agreement also includes close collaboration with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) and regional institutions to undertake joint research programmes and achieve the transfer of knowledge between the Gulf and Europe.”
In another substantial overseas investment, Masdar made its move into the wind energy market in September last year via its interest in Finnish wind turbine manufacturer WinWinD. Masdar has invested US $178 million in the Helsinki-based company, which designs, develops and assembles 1 and 3MW turbines. As a result of the partnership, Masdar now holds three seats on the Finnish firm’s board and is working to expand WinWinD’s geographic expansion in Europe, India and the Middle East.
“For WinWinD, the investment is a testament to the high quality of Finnish wind energy know-how and the increasing global demand for renewable energy,” says Lassi Noponen, WinWinD’s executive chairman. “The deal also provides us with a solid basis for developing our company further.”