Masdar plans 100 MW photovoltaic solar power plant

Abu Dhabi government-owned Masdar, the renewable energy company, is planning to build a 100 megawatt photovoltaic plant, taking advantage of lower PV costs. “Our power unit, which is working on renewable projects, is working on a PV plant, Noor 1,” Afshin Afshari, manager of energy management at Masdar City, told reporters.

“Originally, we had planned on using only CSP [concentrated solar power], but the cost of PV had come down significantly and continues to come down,” Afshari said. “It will be even cheaper next year.”

Masdar is already building a $600 million, 100 megawatt Concentrating Solar Power plant in Abu Dhabi with France’s TotalTotal S.A. (TOT) and Spain’s Abengoa Solar (ABG.MC). Masdar, which owns 60% of the project, appointed the partners in June last year. TotalTotal and Abengoa each own 20%.

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government-backed renewable energy company, plans this year to start building a 20-to-30-megawatt wind turbines facility. “We are evaluating bids from international companies who want to help us build the wind farm,” Frank Wouters, director of Masdar Power, said at an industry briefing in Abu Dhabi.

The Masdar pilot will involve electric vehicles and test the feasibility of electric car technology as a point-to-point transportation solution for Masdar City. hrough the pilot, Masdar will test and validate the performance of Electric Vehicles and various charging solutions in the region’s climate conditions and patterns of vehicle usage.

In the first three months of the one year pilot, Masdar will deploy a fleet of 10 Mitsubishi Motor’s i-MiEV new-generation electric vehicle. A five-door hatchback, that seats four, the i-MiEV has a cruising range of 150 km and is the first mass-produced, 100% electric vehicle on the market. The electric car i-MiEV is powered by a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery, has a top speed of 130 km per hour and by using a quick charging station, can be charged from empty to 80% in 30 minutes.

Masdar last year reviewed its plans for Masdar City, the real-estate part of its initiative, and revised its delivery timeline for the carbon-neutral development, as a global financial crisis tempered Abu Dhabi’s plans. Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the U.A.E. and home to most of the country’s crude oil, has set a target to generate 7% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

Masdar has said the review allowed it to cut its original budget of $22 billion by 10-15% without changing its targets. “There’s more focus now over financial viability and making sure the technological choices we make are optimal from both the energy and financial points of view,” Afshari said Sunday. “We’re now more focused on making our buildings more efficient rather than putting PVs everywhere.”

Masdar is increasing efficiency measures, such as insulation in walls, before resorting to expensive renewable energy, he said. Planned to be the world’s first city powered entirely by renewable energy sources, Masdar City will need to seek off-site sources of power as more of the city is built, Afshari added. MasdarMasdar Institute, the project’s research and educational arm, and the complex site are now powered by a 10 megawatt PV power plant that is also connected to Abu Dhabi’s electricity grid.

“As new buildings come online in a year or two, we will probably need to seek alternative sources of power,” he said. The development is now “energy positive,” or generating more power over 24 hours than is used, he added. Masdar Institute and the site are powered by 10 megawatt from the power plant and 1 megawatt from solar panels on the Institute’s roof. PV panels on the roof of MasdarMasdar’s headquarters, expected to be complete in three years, will add an additional three megawatt.

“Beyond that, we are using non-power renewable energy,” Afshari said. Masdar is building a pilot project to test geothermal energy, drilling two 2.5 kilometers-deep holes into the ground to convert warm ground water into chilled water that can be used for district cooling.