In a move to diversify its energy package Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) launched its first pilot solar power project this past June in Awali, in the south of Bahrain.

Together with the National Oil and Gas Authority, the Electricity and Water Authority, and the University of Bahrain, Bapco wants to improve the generation of clean energy using the sun – the major renewable energy resource in the Middle East.

Economists and energy experts say the project will contribute to the growth of renewable energy industries, create jobs in a new and promising field, and reduce dependence on natural gas as a major source for power generation.

The $25 million project installed solar energy units in three locations: in Awali, with a 1.6 megawatt capacity; the oil refinery plant, with a 3 megawatt capacity; and at the University of Bahrain, with a 0.5 megawatt capacity, announced Bapco’s general manager of engineering projects Abdul Jabbar Abdulkarim.

“The project succeeded in generating electricity through solar energy and smart grid applications that optimize the reliability and safety of the electricity distribution network,” said Abdulkarim.

“The University of Bahrain played a pivotal role in the success of this project by placing 2,000 solar panels at various university facilities, with each panel generating 200 watts of electricity, for a total of 400 kilowatts,” said University of Bahrain vice president for planning and development Waheeb al-Nasser.

The university’s large expanse of land – nearly 10,000 square meters – is ideal for launching other renewable energy projects, he added, such as harnessing wind energy by installing wind turbines on the university campus.

Solar and wind energy are readily available in the kingdom of Bahrain especially in June and July. If you are in the Middle East now you will understand the power of the sun.