Abengoa looking to offload stake in UAE's Shams 1 CSP solar farm

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Spain’s Abengoa – a leading developer of solar CSP projects globally – has announced that it is seeking to sell its 20% share in the 100 MW Shams 1 CSP plant in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an effort to raise $335 million in liquidity.

Developed over the past three years with the assistance of French energy giant Total and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, the Shams 1 plant was the largest CSP solar farm in the world when it opened in 2013. However, in a viability plan presented to Abengoa’s creditors this week, the Spanish firm has targeted the sale of its stake in the plant as an effective way to raise capital to pay its operating costs, which include the wages of its 24,000 employees.

Abengoa’s own creditor bank disputes the amounts sought by investors, who have urged Abengoa to raise half the required $335 million via asset sales.

The firm’s ongoing debt troubles have been viewed in some quarters as a reflection of the viability of the CSP sector, with costs for this type of solar energy typically much higher than costs for solar PV.

The recently opened Noor 1 CSP plant in Morocco produces energy for around $6 per watt, whereas a typical utility-scale solar PV plant can produce solar energy for under $2 per watt.