UAE: Plans underway to build world’s biggest solar power plant

The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has partnered with Total, a major oil and gas group and Abengoa Solar in order to build the Shams 1 solar power plant, which they say will have a capacity of around 100 megawatts.

Geographically, it will cover an area of 2.5 km²; a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors will be supplied by Abengoa Solar. Construction is set to begin during Q3 2010 and is expected to take approximately two years.

It is hoped that the project will directly contribute towards Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving seven percent renewable energy power generation capacity by 2020.

The joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa Solar (20 percent) will develop, build, operate and maintain the plant which will be located in Madinat Zayed, approximately 120 kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said: "The launch of the Shams 1 marks a very important milestone for Masdar and for Abu Dhabi. I am very proud of the announcement, because this project, which will be the first utility scale, commercial solar power project in the UAE, represents the translation into reality of the vision the Abu Dhabi leadership had for renewable energy in the Emirate.

"In addition, Shams 1 will allow Masdar to transfer to Abu Dhabi the know-how and expertise we have gained from our involvement in developing world-class renewable energy projects abroad, thus not only opening the door for renewable energy projects in the UAE but also for technology transfer, contributing toward the development of a knowledge-based economy and new job opportunities through the specializations required to manage and operate the plant."

Shams 1 is registered as a project under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and is eligible for carbon credits. It is be the first CSP plant registered under the CDM and the second project registered for Masdar. It is said that the plant will displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees or removing 15,000 cars from Abu Dhabi’s roads.