The rooftop Solar Energy Test Site is situated on the south-west wing of the university’s Dubai campus in the United Arab Emirates.
It has received funding from the UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, with support from the British Embassy in the UAE.
The Solar Energy Test Site can accommodate between 24 and 32 solar panels and a weather station that provides real-time data on factors such as ambient temperature, sunlight intensity, humidity, wind speed and direction.
This data will be linked to a data centre on the university’s top floor, enabling engineers to analyse live data against theoretical models to enhance technology performance.
Various technologies can be tested at the site, including solar thermal panels for heating water, solar photovoltaic technologies for electricity generation, storage and battery devices and hybrid systems combining multiple technologies.
The facility has garnered interest from companies like Soltropy, a Scottish company based in Glasgow. Soltropy has developed a system for heating water in homes and businesses.
Professor Tadhg O’Donovan, from Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Dubai, is leading the project.
Professor O’Donovan said: “The availability of sun here, with very little cloud cover, means we’re able to get very clean, repeatable testing conditions for solar panels in a way that isn’t possible in the UK and is limited in Europe.”