x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sharjah’s Mulk in Sierra Leone solar power partnership

Once complete, the plant will have a capacity of 6 megawatts, or about half the capacity of Dubai’s solar park.

A partnership between Sharjah and Abu Dhabi companies will bring solar power to Sierra Leone.

A subsidiary of Mulk Holdings, the Sharjah manufacturing conglomerate, is to build a US$18 million solar park in Freetown using panels made by Masdar PV, an arm of the Abu Dhabi government’s clean energy company. Once complete, the plant will have a capacity of 6 megawatts, or about half the capacity of Dubai’s solar park, said Mulk’s Oasis Gulf Investment, the subsdiary that won the engineering and construction contract for the solar park.

“This is further proof that the UAE is establishing itself as a hub for solar in the Mena region,” said Vahid Fotuhi, the founder of the Middle East Solar Industry Association, a Dubai-based group. “We have seen EPCs [engineering, procurement and construction] from Abu Dhabi taking on lead roles, we’ve seen EPCs from Dubai, and it’s great that now Sharjah is now joining the mix. It accentuates the strength of the UAE in positioning itself as a hub for solar companies and for solar expertise, not just for the GCC but also for the Mena region.”

Gulf solar companies are increasingly targeting Africa for new projects. In April Masdar completed a 15MW plant in Mauritania, and last month the Senegalese president Macky Sall said Masdar was considering building a $40m solar plant in his country. Acwa Power, the Saudi solar company, has made Africa a cornerstone of its expansion from conventional power into solar with contract wins in South Africa and Morocco.

The Sierra Leone solar project, which is designed to meet 8.5 per cent of the country’s demand, is to be overseen by a Dh2 billion consortium with representatives from Sierra Leone’s Dubai consulate and the International Renewable Energy Agency based in Abu Dhabi. Sierra Leone hopes to source a quarter of its power from renewables by next year.

“This venture is a big step towards helping us strengthen our base further in the African market,” said Shaji Ul Mulk, the chairman of Mulk Holdings.

ayee@thenational.ae