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COP28: We need to adapt to the environment for the environment

8th Dec, 2023

With five billion years of free energy we don’t need miracle inventions but great, adaptable implementation of the technologies we have. In the middle of COP28, we took in the world’s largest single-site solar park, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the UAE. Read Dr Nigel Wilkinson, Head of Energy Consulting’s musings from the conference as he witnesses the breath-taking implementation and adoption of a proven technology in the Middle East. 

If you want to see the future, come to Dubai. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, situated on the outskirts of the city is just half an hour’s drive from COP28. Amidst the desert heat, the presentations, exhibits, and buzz of the conference this magnificent feat of engineering stands apart. The largest single-site solar park in the world.

The centrepiece is a 262m tall solar power tower, the tallest in the world. Encircled by mirrors which reflect the scorching sun to its apex, it shines with white intensity over acres of photovoltaic arrays. A beautiful, almost alien landscape that marks the region’s role in meeting the challenges of Net Zero. In the visitor centre, we are reminded that the source of energy will last five billion years – and that the technology is understandable and simple; the marvel is in the scale of implementation.

I have also recently seen displayed (by a company not associated with the Region) an ensemble of coils and electronics that claims to provide more energy than is put into it. Of course, this impossibility flies in the face of physics. But putting this minor fact aside, ironically, even a mythical, over-complex, hard to scale, perpetual motion machine may not be the answer. We already have free renewable fuel!

One speaker at COP described the solar photovoltaic technology journey from powering satellites and then our homes – getting progressively more efficient and at lower cost – with some tantalising developments in efficiency on the horizon. Another speaker reminded the audience that the game had changed from waiting for the next technology breakthrough to having the mindset to implement those we already have. At least some of the answers lie in reinforcing our networks, implementing storage and creating markets which can deliver the services that consumers and power systems require.

Talan, our parent company, and Gemserv are beginning to grow our network across the MENA region. At this very exciting and critical point we want to learn more from the massive strides being taken in the region and to contribute our own experience in implementing solutions which are proven to work (and avoiding those which do not). However, as a truly international company, we know that there is no one size fits all. Customisation to regional needs is a prerequisite.

But what we don’t need is a limitless supply of energy. We have that already. At least for the next few billion years.

Watch this space.


Nigel Wilkinson

Head of Energy Consulting

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