In January 2012, while the World Future Energy Summit was held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai presented its plans for a 1,000 Megawatt solar project, named the “Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum plant“. Those plans were revealed only a few meters away from SMA booth which made us very excited about this vision. When I had a closer look at the model I wondered who would realize it, when this would be done and if they had already selected a location. One year later, phase one of this vision started becoming a reality as the 13 MW Plant was ready to be commissioned with SMA inverters.
Despite being rich in oil, UAE has a vision to have a sustainable environment. It has even become one of the main EXPO2020 topics which will also take place in Dubai. This has been a main driver to realize this plant soon which would only be a start for many more solar projects to come.
The plant was located around 130 kilometers away from the SMA Middle East service office, in the heart of the UAE desert and close to a natural reserve.
Working In International Teams
The SMA Middle East service team started planning this commissioning at a very early stage to ensure that everything goes in the right direction. The project was initiated by SMA America, which was also a great chance to get to know our colleagues from another continent. Despite the time difference between UAE and California (11 Hours) phone calls were taking place frequently so that the project could be coordinated appropriately.
Adventurous Trip to Work
The plant was far away from major cities so there was no chance to find a hotel close by. Driving to the plant every day from our office in Abu Dhabi was the only way. Because the plant is also very close to a natural reserve, we had to drive very carefully. Camels were roaming around from time to time, and sometimes Gazelles were jumping out of nowhere all the sudden.
Going to the plant was a challenge due to the high temperatures and the large distances. But this could not stop us. Besides, such activities helped the service team grow closer together and become a small family, more than just colleagues. And of course some funny (or sunny!) situations would just turn into nice stories to tell later on and remember forever.
An Experience To Remember Forever
One of the incidents was our wrong estimate of how much petrol we would need for the trip on the second day. While going back after a long day the low petrol light suddenly went ON. Since the closest petrol station was 40 kilometers away, the temperature was close to 40°C, and only very few cars were passing by, we panic at first. That could have become a very tough experience.
We were lucky because that day our service car was very nice to us and made it to the nearest petrol station, so we were fine.
When the final day of commissioning had come and we were getting our 26 inverters up and running, I had to think back to the World Future Energy Summit. We had made it! The project had been realized and our efforts and hard work had paid off.
Mohammad Al Natour (guest author)
Mohammad is Service Manager for SMA Middle East. He discovered his passion and fascination for programming very early. For him, working with circuit boards is more fun than going to a party.