ABB secures $55m order for UAE solar substation

ABB, the Swiss power and automation technology group, has secured a $55 million order from the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) to integrate solar power from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park.

ABB will construct a gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) substation designed to boost power supplies, enhance transmission capacity and add greater reliability to the grid. DEWA, the largest power utility in the UAE, expect phase II of the 100 MW solar park to begin commercial operation in 2017.

Once fully complete in 2030, the park – located 50 km south of Dubai – will total 1 GW in capacity and will support the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy, which has been adopted by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to help the Emirate diversify its energy mix. Initial projections are aiming for 5% solar, 12% clean coal, 12% nuclear and 71% natural gas.

ABB’s task is to build a substation capable of handling the intermittent nature of solar power and plugging into smoothly into the UAE grid. "The substation will help increase transmission capacity and deliver clean solar power to meet growing demand for electricity in the region," said the head of ABB’s power systems division Claudio Facchin. "We are pleased to help the UAE strengthen its power network and increase the use of renewable energy."

Secured as a turnkey contract, ABB will design, install commission and ignite the plant, providing eight bays of 400 kilovolt (kV) and 10 bays of 132 kV GIS, two 132/400 kV power transformers rated at 570 megavolt-ampere (MVA), the automation and control system, surveillance, communication and the protection system.

According to DEWA’s MD and CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, ABB’s involvement in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park will allow the installation to achieve the highest standards of efficiency and reliability. The Emirate’s aim, he added, is to enhance Dubai’s standing as a global hub for trade, finance, tourism and – crucially – the green economy.

Although solar power in the Middle East has yet to fulfill its promise, the UAE has begun to make proactive strides in this field. Its Solar Impulse 2 project – also supported by ABB – was announced in September and will send the first solar-powered plane around the world next year.

DEWA’s solar park is a $3.6 billion investment in solar energy, making it the largest renewable energy project in the region.