Clean Power

Published on November 25th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Largest Solar Power Plant In World Nears Completion In Abu Dhabi

November 25th, 2012 by  

The largest single-unit solar power plant in the world is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and officially open in the first quarter of 2013, solar power giant Masdar has announced. Shams 1 will have a generation capacity of over 100 MW of power, and was built with the stated purpose of providing 20,000 homes in the region with electricity. The project will be followed shortly thereafter by Shams 2 & 3, which are planned to generate similar levels of electricity.

Yousuf Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company, said: “Shams 1 is the largest concentrated solar power project in the world. Developing a project of this scale is a significant achievement for Abu Dhabi, Masdar and its partners, Total and Abengoa.”

There are larger “solar power plants” or “solar power projects,” but they include multiple solar plants of less than 100 MW. (For example, the Solnova Solar Power Station in Spain has five CSP plants of 50 MW each that make the overall project 250 MW in size, and the Gujarat Solar Park in India includes multiple solar PV projects that total 600 MW.)

Construction of the Shams 1 project began back in the third quarter of 2010, at a total cost of approximately $600 million dollars.

Al Ali continues: “Once completed, Shams 1 will be one of the largest concentrated solar power [CSP] plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 square kilometres with a capacity of approximately 100 MW.” (You can see here that even Al Ali has switched from calling it the “largest” CSP plant to “one of the largest” CSP plants.)

Shams 1 is a joint venture that is 60% owned by Masdar, 20% by Total, and 20% by Abengoa.

The project was developed under a contract that ensures ownership and continued operation for 25 years. “Companies that took part in the development of the project offered unique technology to operate the system,” he said.

Once finished, it will consist of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors, 192 solar collector assembly loops with 8 solar collector assemblies per loop, 768 solar collector assembly units, and 27,648 absorber pipes.

“It uses the CSP technology and parabola shapes means that solar thermal electricity is generated by focusing sunlight, concentrated by mirrors, reflects to heat a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam to drive a steam turbine,” Al Ali said.

“As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute to Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7 per cent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020.”

Source: Gulf News
Photos courtesy of Masdar

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • solar equipment supplier

    The world’s largest single solar power unit plant is due to be completed by the end of 2012 . It will officially open for business in the first quarter of 2013 and will have a generating capacity of over 100 mega watts of power – enough to power 20,000 homes in the region with electricity.

  • That’s $30,000 per home….that’s the same price I install a 1/2 megawatt system for, for an investor doing a PPA on a couple of acres…..$3.00 per watt……and that’s PV, not solar-thermal….which is cheaper by an average of .25 per watt…..given the size of this project, the cost they have indicated is rediculous……..and besides….what’s with the 200 homes per MW? That’s 5000 watts per home….the average home here, uses a 7500 watt system….and at rates like the NE on our coast, that’s about $150.00 per month worth of production….in the NE, like NJ, we base out wattage requirements on 4.4 hrs of peak sunlight…..this system, must have at least 6.4……I’m having a real hard time with these figures

  • Great Work !!

  • It takes about 6 times as much copper wire for solar and wind power as it does for a coal/nuclear/gas fired station so we end up digging up about the same amount of earth to get the copper as it does to get the coal/nuclear/gas. It seams we end up messing up our nest no matter what we do.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’d like to see some supporting evidence for that claim.

      Especially rooftop solar.

      There is no way to create 100% “clean” energy. The important task is to figure out how to the least damage possible. Once we get copper out of the ground it is highly recyclable. Best to put it to use, IMO, in ways that don’t involve burning fossil fuels.

    • Ronald Brak

      One kilo of solar panel will produce more electricity than 200 kilos of coal over 30 years, so I think we have a clear winner even without counting the stuff that needs to be dug up to build the coal power plant.

  • Very impressive, its just $6/watt and there’s a lot of unused desert land in Emirates which can be used to build more and more of such plants. The temperature’s reach 50 degrees celsius in summers and this heat can be used for generating electricity.

  • Will

    $600 million initial investment is not insignificant, though a lot less expensive than, say, a new nuclear plant, but I wonder what the investment pays for in energy over the life of the plant. How long is this installation expected to last, and what is the value of the total amount of energy it’s projected to send out? If it can be demonstrated that such solar plants are a good long-term investment, perhaps it would become easier to secure funding from investors (public and/or private) so that more can be built, and not just in the oil-rich, look-of-the-future obsessed UAE, but in places like the United States, China, India, Europe, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia.

    • Hi…hey..going by what you wrote, you have discounted virtually everything this industry already has as stats. Asking how long it would last, the amount of energy it will produce, etc., are fundamental renewable energy questions……and have already been established thru out the world…..

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