Dubai to turn desert heart into electricity after sundown

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One of the world’s biggest solar parks in Dubai has hired Azelio AB to turn desert heat into electricity after sundown.

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The Swedish company will provide energy storage facilities for an expansion project at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, according to a statement on Wednesday. It will be the first commercial unit using solar power generated from the 950-megawatt project to melt and store energy in a block of recycled aluminum at 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 Fahrenheit) during the day. A Stirling engine, using the compression and expansion cycles of gas to covert heat into mechanical movement, will then use the stored heat to generate electricity.

“Our long-duration energy storage can make solar power available around the clock in an affordable way,” Jonas Eklind, chief executive officer of Azelio, said in the statement. The Gothenburg-based firm did not disclose size of the unit or the value of the order. The technology is available in units with as much as 100 megawatts of capacity.

The order was placed by ALEC Energy, a contractor working on the concentrated solar power plant, which is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside of Dubai city, the Middle East’s biggest financial hub.

The solar park is being developed in phases and has a planned production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. More than 1,000 megawatts are currently in operation.

Azelio’s technology is being used on Phase 4, a project jointly owned by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and Chinese state-owned Silk Road Fund.

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