The UAE was ranked third in the world in the production of concentrated solar power (CSP) in 2013. In 2014, roughly 140 MW of solar power was being generated in the UAE. The government estimated that savings between USD 1 billion and 3.7 billion could be achieved by hitting its renewables' target and now believes that the savings could be even greater with the changed outlook for fossil fuels and renewable energy prices.
The UAE is building the world’s largest solar power plant in Abu Dhabi. This plant will diversify Abu Dhabi’s energy sector into renewable sources, increasing Abu Dhabi’s overall solar power capacity and promoting a greener environment through reduced CO2 emissions. The plant will be fully operational by the year 2022. The new plant will:
eliminate more than 2.4 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to removing 470,000 cars from roads
provide electricity to approximately 160,000 households across the UAE
provide one of the most cost-competitive tariffs for solar energy set at AED 4.97 fils per kilo watt hour
increase Abu Dhabi’s solar power capacity to approximately 3.2 gigawatt.
Shams 1 is the world's largest CSP plant. It was launched by the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then President of the UAE in March 2013.
The USD 600 million, 2.5 square kilometre plant has the capacity to feed 100 MW of electricity into the national grid, enough to power 20,000 homes and divert 175,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere.
The plant is located in Western Abu Dhabi and considered the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant and the first utility-scale commercial solar project in the Middle East and one of the largest in the world.
The plant features several key innovations, including purpose-built booster heaters that use natural gas to increase the resulting steam from 380 degrees Celsius to 540 degrees Celsius, enhancing the steam turbine's efficiency and expanding energy production.
The CSP plant also uses a dry cooling system to condense the exhaust steam flow, significantly decreasing the amount of water the plant uses compared to a similar facility.
Shams 1 is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's clean energy company Masdar (60 per cent), Total (20 per cent) and Abengoa (20 per cent).
This award reflects the key role that Shams 1 is playing in the UAE's quest to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix, and the positive difference it is making to the quality of life of local communities.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project
As part of Dubai Clean Energy Strategy to generate 75 per cent of Dubai's power from clean energy by 2050, Dubai will build the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project on a single site in the world, which is expected to begin power generation within the next five years.
The project will surpass the existing world's largest CSP tower in Morocco that has a power generating capacity of 150MW.
The new CSP project, will deliver inexpensive power at less than 8 US cents per kilowatt-hour as it is generated from the site to be located at the existing Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
Circular rings of solar mirrors called heliostats will direct sunlight into a central collection tower where the sun’s rays would power a steam turbine to generate concentrated solar power.
The solar project and solar park when completed are expected to slash carbon emissions in Dubai by more than 6.5 million tonnes of harmful CO2, helping Dubai and the UAE meet their commitment to the Paris Agreement to keep global warming temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius this century.
The benefit of using concentrated solar power is that it can be stored for 8 to 12 hours after generation, which can help power the emirate through the night. The first phase of the new CSP project should be operational by 2021.
The emirate of Dubai announced in January 2012 that a 1 GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park would be built in phases and completed by 2030 in Seih Al Dahal, around 50 km south of Dubai city, to meet its renewable energy supply target.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is the largest single-site solar park in the world, based on the IPP model. It will generate 1,000 MW by 2020 and 5,000 MW by 2030. The first phase of this project began operations in 2013 with a capacity of 13 MW. The second phase began operations in April 2017 with a capacity of 200 MW. The third phase will begin operations in 2020 with a capacity of 1,000 MW, while the fourth phase of the project will begin operations by the last quarter of 2020 with a capacity of 5,000 MW. The project will have the world’s tallest solar tower, measuring 260 metres.
This project was launched under the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s total power output to 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050.
This plant can be responsible for the reduction of approximately 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The park is expected to eventually cover 40 square kilometres. A 200 MW plant, part of the same complex, is currently under construction. The park will produce 5,000 MW by 2030.