The virtual battle of being the solar power leader between Dubai and Abu Dhabi has reaped immense benefits to the Unites Arab Emirates. For the time being, Abu Dhabi seems to have taken the lead in terms of overall solar power capacity operational with the commissioning of what the city claims to be the largest single-site solar power project.
JinkoSolar, supplier of modules to the project and project co-owner, announced that the solar PV project awarded by the Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority (ADEWA, now Emirates Water and Electricity Company) in 2016 is now fully operational. The project, with a capacity of 1,177 megawatts, is located at Sweihan, around 100 kilometers from Abu Dhabi.
The power plant was awarded to a consortium of Japan’s Marubeni and China’s JinkoSolar in September 2016. The financial bid placed by the consortium, US¢2.42/kWh, was the lowest solar power bid at that time.
Apart from high solar radiation resource and a large desert area available for development, cheaper funding and the project’s financial structure allowed the developers to bid at very low tariffs. The project is owned jointly by the consortium and ADEWA. The two consortium partners pooled 20% each in equity into the project while ADEWA arranged for 60% debt funding. Being a government entity, the authority would likely have sealed the debt funding at very low rates.
The pace of execution, and completion, of the project is indeed commendable. The financial bidding for the project was completed in September 2016 while the news of financial closure for the project began circulating around March 2017.
Abu Dhabi is keen to keep up with the pace of solar power development and issued a 2 gigawatt EoI earlier this year. The Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) called upon developers to express interest in development of a solar PV park at Al Dhafra, 50 kilometers from Abu Dhabi.
The new Sweihan solar power park adds to the 100 megawatt Shams concentrated solar power project already operational in Abu Dhabi. The project is owned and operated by the Masdar Group which is currently working on the 800 megawatt phase 3 of the Dubai solar power park.
Dubai is currently developing the famous Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The city aims to have operational solar power capacity of 5 gigawatts at the park by 2030 and has already allocated 1.95 gigawatts of solar PV and solar thermal power capacity.
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