Plans to develop the world’s largest solar energy plant within the deserts of the Gulf have been given the go-ahead, with UAE awarding the venture to a multinational consortium on July 26.
The state-owned Emirates Water and Electrical energy Firm (EWEC) awarded the contract for the 2GW plant to Abu Dhabi Nationwide Power Firm (Taqa), one other local agency Masdar, French utility firm EDF and China’s JinkoPower. As ratings company Standard & Poor’s noted, EWEC is a subsidiary of ADQ, which additionally holds a stake in Taqa.
The overall value of the venture at Al Dhafra, some 35km from Abu Dhabi metropolis, has not been revealed. Nevertheless, when bids for the scheme had been submitted earlier this year, Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) mentioned it had secured the world’s lowest tariff for a solar energy plant, with a bid of 1.35 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), on a levelised value of electricity.
Abu Dhabi is already home to a very massive solar energy plant, the 1.2GW Noor Abu Dhabi which began operations in April in the last 12 months. Also run by Taqa, it claims to be the world’s largest operational single-project photo voltaic plant.
Neighbouring Dubai also has a mammoth solar energy development, the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum PV park, which it says is the biggest single-site photo voltaic power venture on the planet, It is being developed over a number of phases and is designed to have a total capacity of 5GW of renewable energy by 2030.
Race for renewables
Gulf governments are committing ever more assets to the development of renewable power sources, partially to permit them to earn extra income by exporting higher quantites of their oil and gasoline to worldwide clients. Hence the push to develop massive photovoltaic schemes and controversially, nuclear power plants.
Nevertheless, not all schemes are progressing as hoped. Earlier this month, the Kuwaiti government cancelled the Al Dabdaba photo voltaic plant, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The $1.4bn venture, which was due to be developed by the Kuwait Nationwide Petroleum Firm, had already been severely delayed.
Assuming Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra plant strikes forward as deliberate, it’s anticipated to offer sufficient energy to power 160,000 households and scale back Abu Dhabi’s carbon dioxide emissions by some 2.4 million tonnes annually, equal to taking 470,000 vehicles off the road.
The two local firms, Taqa and Masdar, will collectively hold 60% of the corporation, with the remaining 40% shared between their worldwide partners, EDF and JinkoPower. Financial close should occur within the third quarter of this year, with the power due to come on-stream within the first half of 2022.