Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, hailed the launch of the world's largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, a milestone in the emirate's ambition to generate 75 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) said on Saturday that it had selected Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power and China's Shanghai Power to build a 700MW extension to the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Complex, providing more than three times the capacity of the initial plans for the extension.
Under the terms of the contract, the new plant will deliver energy at 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The project will have the world’s tallest solar tower, measuring 260 metres.
"The implementation of the largest CSP plant in the world demonstrates the UAE leadership's commitment to the production of clean and renewable energy, and entrenches our place among the most advanced countries in this industry," said Sheikh Mohammed on Saturday.
"We will continue to implement projects that serve comprehensive development directions in our state and advances the ambitious goals we have set for the future, which we will start implementing today."
Dewa had previously accepted a bid in June for a 200MW extension to the solar park, offering electricity at 9.45 cents per kWh.
The new plant will come online in stages from 2020 and is expected to cost Dh14.2 billion to build. The power purchase agreement and the financial close of the deal are due to be finished shortly.
“Awarding this strategic project supports the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to promote sustainability, and make Dubai a global centre for clean energy and a green economy,” said Saeed Al Tayer, the managing director and chief executive of Dewa.
“This vision is supported by the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s total power output to 7 per cent by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030, and 75 per cent by 2050.”
The price of 7.3 cents per kWh for the fourth phase of the solar complex comes in as more expensive on paper than phases 2 and 3 of the project, which delivered prices of 5.84 cents and 2.99 cents respectively using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
However the new CSP plant, while more expensive, will have the significant advantage of being able to store energy for when the sun has gone down, something that is not possible via PV technology.
Paddy Padmanathan, chief executive of Acwa Power, said that the world had made great strides in utilising solar energy, and, along the way, was now able to deliver increasing amounts of electricity consumed at a lower cost than fossil fuel alternatives.
“The achilles heel [until now] has been the fact that we hadn’t been able to store electricity at a utility scale efficiently, so we haven’t been able to seriously contemplate the idea that renewables could one day deliver all the electricity needs to every person in the world,” he said.