02/19/2007, 00.00
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The first solar plant in Gulf region in Abu Dhabi

The plant should be completed by 2009 and provide electricity to 10,000 homes. The emirate, which holds 90 per cent of the country’s oil reserves, wants to set up a special economic zone for the alternative-energy industry.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – Abu Dhabi, the richest member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 90 per cent of its oil reserves, is to build a US$ 350 million, 500-megawatt solar power plant by 2009. It will be the first of its kind in the Persian Gulf, home to oil and gas producers who supply a fifth of the world's energy needs.

The plant is part of Abu Dhabi's drive to reduce dependence on hydrocarbon power, Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, was quoted as saying on al-Jazeera.

Future Energy, a subsidiary of government-owned Mubadala Development Company, and the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority will fund the plant with other investors.

The emirate eventually hopes to provide solar-powered electricity to 10,000 homes and is setting up a special economic zone for the alternative-energy industry, Jaber said.

“We . . . do not want to be 100 per cent dependent on” hydrocarbon power, he explained. “We have an economic development programme dedicated to establishing an entirely new economic sector focused on alternative energy and sustainable technologies.”

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