Located on the grounds of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, the plant was constructed over a period of 20 months.
Owned by Saudi Aramco, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd provided the 12,684 crystalline photovoltaic modules and SMA Solar technology AG supplied the central inverters. The generated energy is fed directly into KAPSARC’s medium voltage grid.
Due to the limited data available on solar plants in desert regions, Phoenix Solar said the project presented "many challenges".
To overcome these, the German company explained that it developed a special solution to accommodate the high temperatures and sand storms. "The photovoltaic array boxes, which normally stand in the field array, were placed in a well insulated, air-conditioned inverter building. This approach considerably improves the conditions under which the power plant can be maintained as well as prolonging its life cycle," it said.
In its "Middle East and North Africa Solar Market Outlook, 2013-2017" report, GTM Research has said that Saudi Arabia looks likely to be the MENA region’s first gigawatt-scale market by 2015, with nearly 70% of MENA demand expected to come from Saudi and its K.A. CARE program.