'Green Silk Road' a major step on clean energy journey

By Wang Yuke | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-25 08:49
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A group photo of some of the engineers and other personnel involved in the project. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The plant, now fully operational, is expected to help Abu Dhabi slash its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2.4 million metric tons, raising the proportion of clean energy in the UAE's total energy mix to more than 13 percent. That's equivalent to removing about 470,000 cars from the roads.

This huge swathe of desert is neither distant nor silent as the relative serenity is punctuated by occasional creaks and squeals.

"They come from the solar modules (panels) rotating in sync with the sun's radiance as it shifts through the day. Capturing the largest possible amount of sunlight ensures maximum electricity generation. No solar energy should be wasted," Wang said, noting that the angle of the panels varies throughout the day, the steepest being at dusk and dawn.

When the panels lie flat, face up, at about 7 pm each day, a cleaning routine begins. The film of sand collected on each panel's surface hampers the absorption of the sun's rays and electricity generation, so cleaning is an important job, Wang said.

While water is the conventional medium for cleaning panels, it's not the case in Abu Dhabi because of the meager rainfall. "So, we came up with cleaning robots, an automatic substitute, after brainstorming with locals who are better acquainted with the conditions," he added.

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