The researchers working at the Research & Development (R&D) Centre of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park have published 40 papers in international scientific conferences and journals. The papers have enriched the scientific community with specialised studies in different areas of solar and clean energy. The papers have received international recognition for their role in providing radical solutions to energy challenges around the world.
The R&D Centre is the only centre in the UAE that focuses on renewable energy, smart grid technologies, and energy and water efficiency. The centre includes 40 researchers including 20 PhD holders and master’s degree holders comprising 54% of the team.
“The labs at the R&D Centre apply the best international practices in R&D. DEWA is also using 3D-printing and additive manufacturing as innovative solutions for producing spare parts for its generation, transmission, and distribution divisions, and to support the digitisation of its inventory. This reduces procurement time and costs, prolongs equipment life, and promotes innovation,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.
“Using modern and advanced technologies in the energy and water sectors has become a necessity to enhance availability, efficiency and reliability. DEWA’s strategy to use the latest disruptive technologies and keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution has resulted in establishing its position as one of the best utilities in the world,” said Al Tayer.
“DEWA attaches great importance to innovation and R&D. It aligns its strategies with the national plans and strategies, including the UAE Centennial 2071, a long-term government plan to prepare the UAE and young Emiratis for the future; the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, to position the UAE as a global leader in AI by 2031; the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to diversify the energy mix and provide 75% of Dubai's total power output from clean sources by 2050; and the Dubai 10X Initiative, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The Dubai 10X initiative mandates the Government of Dubai to be a global leader that is 10 years ahead of all other cities through government innovation and reformulation of traditional work mechanisms,” said Al Tayer.
Two innovative programmes to encourage and enhance R&D
The R&D centre aims to support Dubai’s position as a global hub for research and development in the field of solar energy, smart grids, energy and water efficiency, and capacity building in these sectors to enable Dubai to meet its sustainable development requirements. “The Centre also supports DEWA’s vision to promote sustainability in energy supply, diversify energy sources, and create a business environment that encourages innovation by establishing a platform for creativity and innovation in the field of renewable energy, clean technologies and training national capabilities,” said Dr. Saif Almheiri, Vice President of Research & Development at DEWA.
“The R&D Centre launched the Al Baheth programme to promote and enhance R&D, and develop professional staff to attract Emirati graduates to work at the R&D Centre. These include organising seminars, conferences, workshops, employment fairs, training programmes, competitions, field visits, university and school visits. It also aims to engage local and international universities in R&D, by sending the best technical candidates to work with DEWA researchers in different areas. The programme consists of four categories: Internships, Capstone Projects Fund, visiting researchers, Seminars and Workshops. The centre also launched Tatweer for Research Cooperation programme to establish a sustainable approach of R&D projects among DEWA’s employees and engineers. This resolves current challenges, improves current operations through research, publishing and enhancing research culture among all DEWA’s sectors and administrations,” Dr. Saif added.
An investigative study on PV efficiency
Dr. Aaesha Alnuaimi, Director of the Solar Innovation Centre; Jim John, Senior R&D Technologist; and Ahmad Safeya, R&D Technologist have published a paper entitled, “Investigation of degradation observed on recent polycrystalline silicon PV modules installed in the desert region.” The paper supports electricity production using clean and solar energy. It was published in the 46th IEEE Photovoltaics Specialists Conference (PVSC) 2019 in Chicago, USA. The paper investigates the degradation of four types of polycrystalline silicon modules from different manufacturers. For each type, the annual degradation rate was calculated using complex measurements under standard testing conditions before installation and after more than 3 years of operation in the field.
Dr. Aaesha Alnuaimi highlighted the importance of the papers to provide sustainable solutions for challenges of PV modules in the desert region, including the soiling effect. Dr. Alnuaimi said the centre’s equipment and facilitation encourage R&D. The internal labs enable studying and testing the reliability of modules, while the outdoor testing facilities enable field testing for new technologies and equipment. This supports several research areas including the PV modules performance.
Innovative solutions presented by researchers at the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution pillar at the R&D Centre is particularly important as it supports and empowers the other work areas of the centre. The researchers at the Fourth Industrial Revolution work on developing innovative solutions. Those solutions are published in research papers at international specialised conferences.
Dr. Hesham Ismail, Senior Researcher at Fourth Industrial Revolution and Nawal Aljasmi, R&D Technologist, in collaboration with Amity University – Dubai, have prepared a research paper entitled, “PV Panel Detection using Drone.” Two students of the university took part in the research, through the eAl Baheth programme.
The research paper, presented at the International Conference and Exhibition on Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 2019, presented an integrated solution to maintain the efficiency of PV modules. The conference was organised by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. This comes amid the increasing use of solar energy around the world which require installation and maintenance of a large number of PV modules on the production site.
“This innovative technology allows automatic regular checking of PV modules using drones. This ensures it produces the required amount of energy. The current checking is done manually and is very tiring and requires a lot of time and human and financial resources. The new technology includes programming of drones to check the PV modules according to a predetermined track using GPS. This technology uses algorithms developed at the centre to select the PV module and detect its errors. Post fixing procedure is done through photography and thermography of cameras fixed on drones.