All you need to know about Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park

Upon completion, Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will become the largest single-site solar development on the planet. Paromita Dey outlines everything you need to know about the enormous project.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will produce 1,000MW by 2020 and 5,000MW by 2030. With a total investment of $13.6bn (AED50bn), it will help Dubai to achieve an annual reduction of approximately 6.5 million tonnes of carbon.

The solar park includes an innovation centre, worth $136m (AED500m), which will host a number of research and development laboratories for clean energy.

The solar park, one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects, is based on an independent power producer (IPP) model. It will be developed across three phases, which will consist of solar farms that employ photovoltaic (PV) technology. The development will also include a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant.

The solar park is being implemented by Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy (SCE), and will be managed and operated by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) as part of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.

Here’s everything you need to know about the mammoth solar development.

1. The first phase of the solar park became operational in 2013

The first phase of the solar park – in Seih Al-Dahal, about 50km south of Dubai – was a 13MW solar farm, which was constructed by US-based First Solar Inc in 2013. It uses 152,880 FS-385 black CdTe modules and generates approximately 24GWh per year. This power plant generates enough energy to meet the average annual electricity needs of more than 500 local households. On average, electricity generated by the power plant is expected to displace more than 14,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to removing 1,600 cars from the road every year.

2. Phase 2 to become operational by April 2017

The $326m (AED1.2bn) Phase 2 of the solar park, to be built over an area of almost 4.5km2, will begin operations in April 2017. In January 2015, DEWA announced that the production capacity of the this phase of the development was to be increased twofold, from the initially planned 100MW to 200MW.

DEWA has selected a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and Spain’s TSK as the preferred bidder, based on its proposed levelised cost of energy (LCOE). More than 2.3 million solar PV panels will be installed during Phase 2, producing enough energy to power 30,000 homes. A project company, Shuaa Energy 1, has been formed to complete the phase. DEWA is the majority shareholder at 51%, with Acwa and TSK sharing the remaining 49%.

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