Dubai Picks Team for $3.9B Solar Project

A consortium led by Shanghai Electric and ACWA Power will build the 700-megawatt fourth phase of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, touted as the largest facility of its kind.

Dubai’s officials awarded a consortium of Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power a $3.9 billion contract for the construction of a 700-megawatt solar power plant at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The facility has a leveled tariff of $7.3 cents per kilowatt/hour in an IPP tender without the benefit of any subsidy, including any carbon credit.

Construction of the solar project is estimated to begin in 2018. Once finalized, the renewable energy plant will avoid the emission of 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, while providing green electricity to roughly 568,000 households. The plant is part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, launched in late November 2015, and includes projects designed to produce at least 7 percent of the country’s power from renewable sources by 2020, at least 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050. 

This new plant is the fourth phase of the solar park, which is touted as the largest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) facility in the world. Upon completion, the massive solar park will cover more than 9,266 acres (3,750 hectares), the equivalent of more than 4,500 football fields, mostly covered with mirrors concentrating the sunrays. Moreover, it will use an 853-foot central tower and parabolic trough CSP technologies. The trough is the solar thermal collector: the troughs will collect heat and store it in a molten salt medium, enabling a supply of electricity on demand both day and night.

Solar park components

  • The first phase of the solar park, a 13-megawatt farm built by First Solar, opened in October 2013, but will be commissioned by year-end 2020.
  • The second phase, a 200-megawatt solar farm built by ACWA Power and Spain’s TSK, began operations in March 2017.
  • The third phase is an 800-megawatt solar facility developed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co.
  • The fourth phase is the recently approved 700-megawatt facility.

“This project is a game changer in our quest to decarbonize electricity generation by making available renewable energy at a price that competes with fossil fuel generated electricity without subsidy not just when the sun is shining but at any time of the day and night. This project at this scale and cost level is a cause celebration not just for the renewable energy industry but for each and every person in the world who is concerned about preserving the planet for future generations. The visionary courage of the Government of the Emirate of Dubai has enabled ACWA Power to set the scene to make 100 percent of electricity through renewable energy in the not distant future not just a dream but a reality. We are privileged and proud to be partnering with such pioneers as the Emirate of Dubai and the utility DEWA,” Paddy Padmanathan, president & CEO of ACWA Power, said in a prepared statement.

Video courtesy of DEWA