Groundbreaking to commence on 800 MW solar plant in Dubai

The Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum Solar Park has been making big headlines ever since plans for the mega solar park were first released, with plenty of skepticism about the viability of the project, especially after the low prices for the solar energy were announced. Well, after a record-breaking price agreed for solar power and the power purchase agreements (PPAs) now signed, it has been confirmed that groundbreaking will commence on phase 3 of the project by the end of the month.

This comes after a consortium of GranSolar, Acciona, and Ghella were awarded the EPC contract for the 800 MW phase 3 of the project this week at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017. The construction is set to be completed in three stages, with the first 200 MW expected to be operational by the first half of 2018, and then two 300 MW stages will follow in the two years after.

“This important milestone is a clear demonstration of the strong momentum behind the expansion of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, now including partnerships with GranSolar, Acciona and Ghella – respected international companies with a strong track record in renewables,” commented Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi. “. At Masdar, we are proud to be supporting the UAE in realising its bold clean energy targets, and we are grateful for DEWA’s excellent leadership in this benchmark project.”

Solar industry eyebrows were first raised by this pioneering project in June 2016, when the project was awarded to a consortium led by UAE’s Masdar, who smashed the record at the time for low prices offered for energy generated through solar. The price was set at USD 0.0299 per kWh, and although there were plenty of skeptics that a project could go through on such a low price, the PPAs were signed by Masdar and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) in November last year.

However, since then a new solar project in the kingdom saw prices drop even lower during a tender in September for the Sweihan solar project. However, this project has not been officially awarded to any of bidders yet, so it is not clear how much the prices will be on the eventual PPA.

All of these projects are part of a push in the UAE to install and promote renewable energy. Incredibly, the country has set an ambitious target of having clean energy make up 75% of its energy mix, according to the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, announced earlier in the month.

DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer pointed out that the project in Dubai supports “the growth of the promising clean energy sector, and our efforts to achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to diversify the energy mix so clean energy will generate 7% of Dubai’s total power output by 2020, 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.”