UAE launches world's largest concentrated solar power plant in operation
Abu Dhabi, March 18, 2013
United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan inaugurated Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world in the western region of Abu Dhabi today.
The 100-megawatt, grid-connected power plant will generate clean energy to power 20,000 homes in the UAE, WAM, the official Emirates News Agency said.
Sheikh Khalifa, who is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the UAE federation, described the project as a major achievement in the country's quest for energy security and economic diversification.
"The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major milestone in our country's economic diversification and a step toward long-term energy security.
"We are proud of the young Emiratis that worked on this project. The expertise they gained, working closely with international companies and building a project of such scale, is the type of human capital development that will enable our country to secure long-term energy leadership.
"Shams 1 is a strategic investment in our country's economic, social and environmental prosperity. The domestic production of renewable energy extends the life of our country's valuable hydrocarbon resources and supports the growth of a promising new industry," he said.
The WAM report said that the Middle East and North Africa region holds nearly half of the world's renewable energy potential.
"The inauguration of Shams 1 is a breakthrough for renewable energy development in the Middle East," said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, which has set up the plant.
"With the demand for energy rising exponentially, the region is undergoing a major transformation in how it generates electricity. In fact, the Middle East is poised for major investments in renewables, and Shams 1 proves the economic and environmental advantage of deploying large-scale solar projects."
Shams 1 was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa Solar (20 percent). With the addition of Shams 1, Masdar's renewable energy portfolio accounts for almost 68 percent of the Gulf's renewable energy capacity and close to 10 percent of the world's installed CSP capacity.
The CSP project reduces the UAE's carbon emissions, displacing approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, an equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees, or taking 15,000 cars off the road. With solar power generated during peak demand, the UAE can reduce its need for "peak shaving" generators, which are expensive and idle most of the year.
"As a long-lasting partner of Abu Dhabi, we are particularly proud to have been part of the challenging adventure that was Shams 1 construction. This is a major step in the process of transforming the capabilities of solar power in the region," said Christophe de Margerie, chairman and CEO of Total.
"We share Abu Dhabi's vision that renewables have a promising future alongside fossil energies. Total is today a world leader in solar industry. As such, we are pleased to accompany the Emirate in the diversification of its energy mix."
Covering an area of 2.5 square km, or 285 football fields, Shams 1 incorporates the latest in parabolic trough technology and features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors.
By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. The project uses a booster heater to heat steam as it enters the turbine, dramatically boosting the cycle's efficiency. Shams 1 also features a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption - a critical advantage in the arid desert.
"The Middle East holds nearly half of the world's renewable energy potential," said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar. "The abundance of solar energy is an opportunity to integrate sustainable, clean sources of power that address energy security and climate change. The region needs more projects like Shams 1, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of future energy."