The UAE has been hitting headlines with eco-friendly innovations for a while, from plant-based water bottles, to now, the nation’s first floating solar power plant, located off of the island Zaya Nurai in Abu Dhabi.

The plant, which produces a capacity of 80 kilowatts in solar energy, will start operating this week.

UAE-based sustainable energy company, Enerwhere, began working on the project with the aim of providing a sustainable energy resource for Zaya Nurai, which is a tiny resort island 15 minutes away from Abu Dhabi, with obviously limited land and beach space.

  Photo courtesy of Enerwhere.

Feras Shadid, Head of the Off-grid Division at Enerwhere explained to Gulf News, “We wanted to build solar systems on the island without jeopardising the beach space that many tourists enjoy. Our solution was utilising the sea, which we have in abundance.”

The project is a big move for the nation, which is mostly reliant on revenue from oil and gas production, rather than solar and renewable energy.

“Abu Dhabi has around 150 islands that could benefit from floating renewable energy solutions,” Shadid added. “We need to cater to the needs of those islands. Our next target as well is the World Islands in Dubai. 

Installing and maintaining solar power panels at sea can be expensive, costing around three times more than land-based projects, Stefan Muckstein, the chief operating officer of Enerwhere, said in an interview with Bloomberg. But the project aims to provide a sustainable alternative to producing energy for the UAE’s many man-made islands.