Bahrain will finalise on two tenders towards installing and operating 7.5 Mwac grid-tied solar panels next week, while others covering more than 30 Mwac are underway.

The two bids which close on December 22 are for setting up power plants on rooftops and car parks of the ministries of Education and Labour and Social Development.

This reflects Bahrain’s “increased pace of utilisation of solar energy”, said Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) president Dr Abdulhussain Mirza.

A grid-tied system uses solar panels to generate electricity from sunlight. Excess power is exported to the utility grid, and similarly, when the household requires more power, those needs are met by imports from the grid.

MWac stands for Mega-Watt, Alternating Current. It is a measure of the power output from a solar installation after the output of the PV (photovoltaic) panels have been converted to AC via inverter devices. This differs from the MWp measurement which measures only the Direct Current output of solar PV panels.

“We are in the process of awarding contracts for the construction and operation of 7.5 MWac of grid-tied solar capacity,” Dr Mirza told the GDN.

“In addition to this, we have more than 30 Mwac to be tendered soon.

“The significance of this is that it shows the increased pace of utilisation of solar energy after it has been proven that it can reduce the cost of electricity by about 30 per cent.

“Renewables is one of the factors that will contribute towards Bahrain achieving zero carbon emissions by 2060.”

Bahrain had made a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060 to help tackle climate change and protect the environment.

This was announced by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, last month at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

The other goals are quadrupling of mangroves, cutting emissions by 35pc by 2035, doubling plantations and doubling renewable energy goals.

“Of the two tenders, one is to set up a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant of at least 5 MWac that will be installed on building rooftops and car parks of the Education Ministry,” said Dr Mirza.

“The second one will be to compete to build, own and operate a similar power plant of over 2.5 MWac on building rooftops and car parks of the Labour and Social Development Ministry.”

The bids will be opened on December 23 and the winners will be awarded power purchase agreements (PPAs) for a period of 20 years.

The GDN reported in June that the country’s plan to install solar panels on ministry buildings and schools, among many other such plans, would slash utility bills with savings of 30pc for electricity per unit.

Meanwhile, Dr Mirza reiterated that Bahrain has already achieved 95pc of the national renewable energy target of 250 megawatts (MW) by 2025, with more than 237MW of green energy being produced currently.

“The kingdom now has four years left to realise the remaining 5pc, and we are confident that we will be achieving the national goal by 2025.”

Among the upcoming tenders are that for a solar farm at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) that could power the 2022 Formula 1 Grand Prix. Panels will be installed at car park shades at the BIC and bidders have time until the end of this year to take part in the public tender announced for Build Own Operate and Maintain (BOOM) grid-tied solar PV power plant with minimum capacity of 3 MWac.

Bids are also invited for solar panels and offshore wind turbines as part of the planned King Hamad Causeway, the second bridge to link the country with Saudi Arabia.

The deadline of the tender is December 31.

A 5 Mwac solar power plant in Aluminium Bahrain as part of its initiatives to diversify sources of energy and use clean energy is also on the bid – which will be finalised in early February.

Among the tenders for September next year are for installing solar panels at various branches of Bahrain Islamic Bank and the National Bank of Bahrain.

Other projects include a 100-kilowatt photoelectric energy power plant in Askar, expanding solar power initiatives in Awali and installing solar panels in homes, mosques and ma’atams.

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