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The Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources at AUB organized the second technical training trip, this time to renewable sustainable cities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as to an international exhibition for the power industry in Dubai. Over five days, a group of 15 students from the Pro-Green online joint professional diploma program in green technologies and energy studies programs at the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) were able to examine sustainable development efforts in this part of the region, in the company of three faculty members from MSFEA and two Pro-Green program ambassadors.
In Abu Dhabi, the trip included a visit to Shams 1 Solar power station, a farm that uses parabolic trough technology, considered among the largest parabolic trough power stations in the world. Shams 1 Solar contributes toward Abu Dhabi’s target of 7% power-generation capacity through renewable energy by the year 2020. The plant also helps the United Arab Emirates diversify its energy mix and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
The students also explored the Masdar City solar photovoltaic plant, which is the largest of its kind in the Middle East. The facility produces approximately 17,500 megawatt-hours of clean electricity annually and offsets 15,000 tons of carbon emissions per year.
“The technical training trip was a great educational and eye-opening experience for three main reasons: first, I got the chance to witness first-hand the operation of renewable energy plants that I only knew about in theory. Secondly, being able to travel to a nice area with a group of interesting people from different backgrounds is by itself a refreshing boost. Third, we got the chance to meet experts in the field and have interesting discussions with them,” said Ahmad Diab, an energy studies major at AUB who joined the program in fall 2016 and was one of several to comment on the unique and valuable hands-on opportunities that the training trip experience offered.
The trip in Dubai comprised of a visit to Sustainability City and Maktoum solar park. Sustainability City is Dubai's first operational net zero energy city, costing zero net service fees and zero net maintenance fees, considered exemplary for creating sustainability. The Maktoum solar park is the largest single-site solar park in the world that is based on the Independent Power Producer model. The project supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to transform Dubai into an international hub for clean energy and green economy by providing 7% of Dubai's total power output from clean resources by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.
The trip ended with a visit to the Middle East Electricity (MEE) exhibition which is the region’s leading international trade event for the power industry exhibiting the latest sustainable, affordable, and reliable power sources that support energy management. Gathering the region’s power industry professionals, the event offered the students an opportunity to meet and network with exhibitors and professionals from across the Middle East, Africa, and the rest of the world.
"This was an inspirational, memorable trip that puts the diploma's learning platform in the practical context while allowing for a bonding between great colleagues and a sharing of experiences through its well-organized sessions,” said Adiba Al Masri, Pro-green student who joined the professional program in spring 2017. “For sure, I would like to do this again."
The Pro-Green project was initiated at MSFEA as a result of a grant awarded to AUB by the European Union Tempus Program and a co-sponsorship by the Masri Institute. Today, the AUB-led program is jointly offered by three institutions—AUB, the Lebanese American University, and the American University in Cairo—enriching the experience of students who have the option to take courses with a focus on renewable energies, green buildings, and water resources at any of the three participating universities.
AUB Pro-Green’s first technical training trip took place in Sweden and Italy in February 2016 when 12 Pro-Green students participated in a 14-day visit to photovoltaic plants, labs, and wind farms.
“We would like to make this trip a permanent feature of the student’s learning experience in energy related programs given the feedback from students and faculty,” noted Dr. Nesreen Ghaddar, director of the Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources.