Complex Made Simple

The UAE secures its place in the sun flexing its PV/CSP muscle

UAE's solar power footprint is expanding in a dramatic way- Here's how and why

Built at the cost of almost $900 million, the Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant contains 3.2 million solar panels and will produce 1.17 gigawatts of power The Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is currently in phase III, will offset 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and power 160,000 homes DEWA, has issued a request for proposal, RFP, for appointing consultants to study, develop and construct floating solar photovoltaic plants in the Arabian Gulf

The UAE has incentivised the transfer of clean technologies with a case in point being Masdar City which since 2009 has enticed more than 400 international companies including GE and Siemens, by offering full foreign ownership and tax-free business.

Noor Abu Dhabi is the latest, and one of the world’s largest, solar-powered plants to announce its presence on in the country, contributing to the removal of millions of tons of carbon emissions from our breathing space.   

Noor explained

Noor Abu Dhabi is the world's new largest individual solar power plant. Built at the cost of almost $900 million, the plant contains 3.2 million solar panels and will produce 1.17 gigawatts of power. That translates into an off-grid power supply to some 90,000 people and removal of 1 million tons of carbon emissions equivalent to nearly decommissioning 200,000 cars from our roads.

Image courtesy of BigThink

The project is part and parcel of UAE's Energy Strategy 2050, launched in 2017, aimed at having clean energy reach nearly 50% of total energy mix by 2050 while reducing the carbon footprint of power generation by 70%.

Solar projects in the UAE and Saudi

According to BigThink, Saudi is working on a solar farm outside of Mecca that will produce 2.6 gigawatts of power when it's done.

The Faisaliah Solar Power Project is planned to be developed in several stages by the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and the Development Authority of Mecca. 2 GW will be built by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) along with its partners.

Read More: ADNOC opens 1st solar-powered service station in Dubai: EVs welcome

Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is currently in phase III,  will offset 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and power 160,000 homes by 2020. It has allocated 1.95 gigawatts of solar PV and concentrated solar power capacity so far.

By 2030, it will have a capacity of 5gigawatts, offsetting 6.5 million tons of CO2 emissions and generating enough energy to power 800,000 homes, at a cost of AED50bn ($13.62bn).General pic of solar panels in the desert

Another Abu Dhabi project, the Shams 1 project. involves the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant with total installed net rated power output of 100 MW. 

The UAE will invest $163 billion into renewable, clean fossil and nuclear energy technologies over the coming years, with expected savings of $190 billion. 

Helping these projects are lower costs for solar photovoltaic (PV) projects now offered for less than 3 US cents per kWh.

Read more: Rooftop solar panels keeping UAE energy costs from going through the roof  

New solar tenders in the UAE 

A large number of project developers have shown interest in the upcoming 2 gigawatt tender in Abu Dhabi.

Reuters recently reported that 48 companies submitted responses to the expression of interest (EoI) issued by the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) to set up a 2-gigawatt solar power project. The project is planned to be implemented at Al Dhafra, around 50 kilometres from Abu Dhabi.

The new project is expected to be commissioned by Q1, 2022 taking operational solar power capacity in Abu Dhabi to more than 3.2 gigawatts now that Noor became operational.  

Dubai, too, had floated an Expression of Interest for 900-megawatt solar PV project at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park which received responses from 64 companies.

 Finally, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA, has issued a request for proposal, RFP, for appointing consultants to study, develop and construct floating solar photovoltaic plants in the Arabian Gulf.