UAE’s Dubai Launches 1-Gigawatt Solar Power Project

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huge solar power plant planned for dubai
Photo courtesy Khaleej Times

Looking to diversify its energy mix and economy by increasing use of renewable energy, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), launched a 12-billion UAE dirham (Dhs) ($3.27 billion) solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) project on January 10.

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Named in his honor, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will employ both PV and CSP technologies. It is planned to grow to 1 gigawatt (GW) of clean, renewable power-generating capacity, according to a Gulf News report.

Renewables to Diversify the UAE’s Energy Mix

Implemented by Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy, the solar power plant is to be managed and operated by state-owned power utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). An initial Dhs 120 million (US$32.4 million) will be invested in the first, 10-MW phase of the project, which is due to be completed in 4Q 2013. Final completion is scheduled for 2030. The solar power park will rise on a 48-square-kilometer (~18-square-mile) plot of land.

All of Arabian Gulf Coast Dubai’s energy production comes from oil and natural gas. Dewa’s total installed capacity amounts to 7,361 megawatts MW (7.361 GW). Peak demand falls well below 6,000 MW. The best known of seven Arabian emirates that form the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 calls for renewable energy to supply a very modest 1% of the state’s energy by 2020 and 5% by 2030. Currently, in Dubai, 4.5-MW of electrical power is produced via solar energy.

Neighboring Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has announced a Dhr 2.2 billion (US$600 million), 100-MW solar PV project, Noor 1. Masdar has awarded a tender for a 100-MW CSP plant to Spain’s Abengoa and France’s Total. Abu Dhabi has set a 7% renewable energy target for 2020.

Though the Shaikh Mohammad solar power plant will be 100% state-owned, the Dubai government says that private sector companies are prepared to invest in future projects. Solar power development will take the form of both ground-mounted solar power and rooftop solar PV systems.

Engineering consulting bids for the plant’s initial 10-MW of capacity are currently being evaluated by. Tenders for developers are due to open in June.

For more recent news regarding large solar power projects, check out: 115-MW Solar Power Project (+ 5 More Large Solar Power Projects).

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