The United Arab Emirates will soon add 100 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power capacity.
The Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) plans to set up solar PV projects across the Northern Emirates. The power plants will be part of UAE’s Vision 2021, which plans to source 24% of its energy from ‘clean’ energy sources, including renewable and nuclear energy. FEWA services five emirates in the UAE — Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. The two other emirates are the well-known Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
FEWA will partner with private companies to develop these projects, probably meaning that the projects would be allocated through competitive auctions.
Competitive auctions for solar power projects have been exceedingly successful in keeping the cost of generation low, especially in the UAE. Earlier this year Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power secured a contract to set up a 200 MW solar PV project in the emirate of Dubai. The project was allocated to ACWA Power at a record-low levelised tariff of 5.84¢/kWh.
Work on the project is believed to be going on well. ACWA Power has secured $344 million debt finance from three banks in the region at a very low interest rate. The 200 MW power project is expected to be commissioned in April 2017 and is said to be the largest solar power plant of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Countries in the Arab Peninsula have started investing in the renewable energy technologies with an increased sense of urgency since the United Nations Climate Change Conference took place at Doha, Qatar, in late 2012. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE have all announced significant initiatives to boost renewable energy infrastructure. The initiatives are significant because they come at a time when the price of oil is at multi-year low.