Abu Dhabi’s $600m concentrated solar power plant to be completed this year

"Construction began during [the third quarter] of 2010. The project’s cost is $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) and with its completion, it will be the largest solar project in the world," Yousuf Al Ali, General Manager of Shams Power Company told Gulf News.

"Once completed, Shams 1 will be one of the largest concentrated solar power [CSP] plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 square kilometres with a capacity of approximately 100MW and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors," Al Ali said. He added: "Shams 1 is a joint venture between Masdar (60 per cent), Total (20 per cent) and Abengoa (20 per cent)".

Al Ali highlighted: "The Shams 1 technology is unique due to strong technical cooperation between Masdar, Total and Abengoa." Shams 1 will be a core contributor to Abu Dhabi’s long-term renewable energy objectives, he said.

"As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute toward Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7 per cent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020," said Al Ali.

He pointed out that the power station was developed under a 25-year build, own and operate contract. "The station will consist of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors, 192 solar collector assembly loops with 8 solar collector assemblies per loop, 768 solar collector assembly units, and 27,648 absorber pipes," explained Al Ali.

"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," said Al Ali.

The plant is located at Madinat Zayed. Sultan Al Jaber, Masdar’s CEO, said earlier: "Shams 1 is a milestone project for the region. Shams 1 is the first utility scale, commercial solar power project in the Middle East."

Shams 1 is ten times the size of the photo voltaic array at Masdar, said Al Ali. "More plants the size of Shams 1 are also needed to cover the increasing demand [for] power in the country," said Al Ali.

Lenders for the project include BNP Paribas, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Societe Generale and the Bank of Tokyo.