Details emerge of solar tower delays at Dubai mega project


The latest update issued by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) about the vast Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park would appear to indicate further slippage in progress.

Lauding the progress of the huge solar field, the state-owned utility said last week the site has 1.53 GW of operational solar generation capacity and developers are working on a further 1.3 GW, with the fourth and fifth phases of the project still underway.

Last year, DEWA announced the commissioning of the first 300 MW stage of the 900 MW fifth phase of the project. It said it expected to add a further 217 MW by the end of 2021, with the later panels set to be installed as part of a fourth phase, which includes 250 MW of PV and 700 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity. A press release issued by DEWA earlier this year then said that a total of 514 MW had instead all arrived as part of the fifth phase of the project.

The figures quoted last week by DEWA hint that the park is 3 MW short of the capacity it was hoped would have been installed by the end of 2021, with none of the fourth phase yet commissioned. The latest announcement also appeared to indicate that the 100 MW solar tower and 200 MW parabolic trough associated with the CSP section of the project are still not operational, despite DEWA having stated they would be commissioned last year.

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Saudi energy company ACWA Power, which is 50% state-owned, and regional body the Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) are developing the fifth phase of what is planned to be a 5 GW solar site by 2030.

ACWA and the GIC entity owned by the states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, won the contract to develop the AED 2.06 billion ($561 million), fifth phase of the solar field and will own 40% of the facilities installed, with DEWA retaining the balance. The development partners agreed to accept a then-world record low solar tariff of $0.016953 for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by the project's fifth phase.

DEWA last year said the fifth phase is set to be completed by next year. The announcement released by the utility last week stated the solar field will have an eventual investment cost of “up to AED 50 billion.”

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