Exploiting Our Biggest Resource Yet, The Sun


The world has reached a point in which alternative energy sources are no longer considered as belonging to the futures, because the future is now. Multiple cities are investing in solar power, being aware of the huge amount of potential it has.

One of the most well-known projects is SolarCity, founded, among others, by Tesla’s Elon Musk and headquartered  in San Mateo, California. The company, which is offering photovoltaic systems, helped the overall U.S. market grow from 440 megawatts of installed solar panels in 2009 to 6200 megawatts in 2014.

Still, the U.S. isn’t the only region where solar energy is becoming widely used. The Middle East is currently the world’s leader in solar energy, with traditionally oil-rich states, like the UAE, Qatar or Saudi Arabia, exploiting their other abundant resource: the Sun.

Each of these three countries invests massive amounts, looking forward to establish environmentally sustainable cities.

The UAE, for example, made important steps in their attempt to introduce solar power on a larger scale. After the 100-megawatt Shams (Arabic for “sun”) solar power station, in Abu Dhabi, became operational in 2013, it now generates almost 10% of the world’s solar thermal electricity, powering more than 20,000 homes in the UAE.

But they won’t stop here,  as right now, Masdar City, the world’s most environmentally sustainable city is being constructed 17 kilometers away from Abu Dhabi, with the purpose of becoming a hub for clean technology companies.

Moving on to Qatar, it also sheds light on its solar-power future, unveiling the first-of-its kind solar panel factory back in 2014, with the ability to generate 300 megawatts of energy per year.

On the other side, Qatar, currently the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world, doesn’t have any plans about trading fossil-fuel production for solar, but their definitely consider according more attention to renewable energy sources, even planning to convert two percent of its power sources to renewable ones until 2020.

As for Saudi Arabia, they have started focusing on solar power since starting with 2011, when 50% of the country’s electricity need was produced by burning oil. In the same year, on October 2, their first power plant was commissioned on Farasan Island.

Their plans are even more ambitious though, planning to provide 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032. Also, they won’t stop at just installing solar panels across the country, but also develop panels, at accessible prices, and sell them worldwide, with the U.S. being one of the potential clients.

To sum up, we must admit that there might be countries which have insanely popular solar energy projects, SolarCity being the best example, but in the end, it’s the results that matter. And from this point of view, the Middle East is definitely leading the pack!

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