Abu Dhabi’s $600m solar power project to be ready by year end

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An illustration of the Shams 1 solar power plant. Photo - greentechnoblog.com

The $600m Shams 1 solar power plant project in Abu Dhabi is in its completion stages and will be ready by the end of this year.

“Construction began during the third quarter of 2010. The project’s cost is $600m and with its completion; it will be the largest solar project in the world,” Yousuf Al Ali, General Manager of Shams Power Company, said.

He also added that once completed, Shams 1, will be one of the largest concentrated solar power plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 sq km with a capacity of approximately 1000MW and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors. Shams 1 is a joint venture between Masdar (60%), Total (20%) and Abengoa (20%).

This solar power project is being ranked as the costliest and largest solar project in the world, and is being constructed with the combined finance from 10 regional and international lenders including BNP Paribas, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Mizuho, Union National Bank and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. WestLB and BNP Paribas have acted as financial advisors for the project.

Al Ali vowed that Shams 1 will be the core contributor to Abu Dhabi’s long term renewable energy objectives.

“The Shams 1 technology is unique due to strong technical cooperation between Masdar, Total and Abengoa,” he added.

“As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute toward Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7 percent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020.”

The power company CEO also pointed out that the power station was developed under 25 year build, own and operate contract.

Explaining the power station, he said: “The station will consist of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors, 192 solar collector assembly loops with 8 solar collector assembly units, and 27, 648 absorber pipes.”

The mega project is being constructed near Madinat Zayed in Abu Dhabi’s western desert. Philleppe Boisseau, president of Total’ gas and power unit expressed his satisfaction over work schedule.

Solar Power Project

The mega project, which is being constructed at the cost of $600m, is designed around the technology developed by Abengoa. Mirrors lining rows of sun-tracking parabolic troughs will concentrate sunlight on a central boiler to generate high-pressure steam which will drive turbines to generate electricity.

This solar power plant with 768 parabolic sunlight collectors covers the area of 2.5 sq km which is capable to generate 100MW of power under ideal conditions.

Describing power project Al Ali said: “This plant is different from other solar plants in the world. The CSP technology used in Shams 1 generates solar thermal electricity by focusing sunlight concentrated by mirrors to heat a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam that drives a conventional steam turbine, resulting in an efficient, reliable and clean solution.”

According to him, the solar project is a milestone for the country and GCC, and would also help in increasing power supply to the region. “Shams 1 is a milestone project for the region, Shams 1 is the first utility scale, commercial solar power project in the Middle East,” he added.

“More plants the size of Shams 1 are also needed to cover the increasing demand for power in the country.”

Second Project on its Way

Meanwhile, Masdar has also announced a second solar power project, Noor-1, in which photovoltaic panels incorporating semiconductors will convert sunlight directly into electricity.

The new power plant will be built in the east of Al Ain, the second biggest city in Emirate of Abu Dhabi and it is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.

Germany’s Lahmeyer International will be the technical advisor for the Noor-1 project.

Sources: Gulf News, The National, oilprice.com

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