The 1GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the United Arab Emirates has reportedly begun powering the production of aluminium, a world first and a major milestone on the path to decarbonising the global manufacturing industry.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) jointly announced this week that the Mohammed bin Rashid solar project in Dubai had started generating electricity for EGA’s aluminium smelter, providing 560,000 megawatt-hours of power each year, sufficient for the production of 40,000 tonnes of aluminium.
Moreover, according to the announcement there is “the potential for significant expansion” in the amount of aluminium produced from the solar generated electricity, thanks in large part to the planned expansion of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park – the 1,013MW project is expected to expand to 5GW by 2030.
The solar electricity being supplied for the aluminium production, dubbed CelestiAL solar aluminium by EGA, is being sourced through the Dubai electricity grid and tracked and traced through the use of the International Renewable Energy Certification System.
It is worth highlighting just how important this announcement is, showing as it does just how flexible solar power and other renewable energy sources can be. Industry and materials production such as aluminium has traditionally relied upon the consistent generation of fossil fuel-powered electricity generation under the assumption that no other forms of generation can supply the massive energy capacities required.
However, as renewable energy and solar generation in particular become more commonplace and robust, they have shown the lie of this assumption and have opened the way for future transformation of the global energy sector.
[Joshua S Hill]