UAE opens world's largest CSP solar power plant

March 17, 2013 by Ali Khalil
Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber—the chief executive of Masdar—answers questions during a press conference in Abu Dhabi, on June 9, 2010. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi has officially opened the world's largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, which cost $600 million to build and will provide electricity to 20,000 homes.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi on Sunday officially opened the world's largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, which cost $600 million to build and will provide electricity to 20,000 homes.

The 100-megawatt Shams 1 is "the world's largest concentrated in operation" said Sultan al-Jaber, the head of 's Masdar, which oversees the emirate's plan to generate seven percent of its energy needs from by 2020.

"Today, Shams 1 is the largest CSP plant in all terms," said Santiago Seage, of Abengoa Solar, one of the partners in the project.

CSP uses a system of mirrors or lenses, whereas many other around the world use photovoltaic technology to harness solar power.

Masdar now produces 10 percent of the world's , Seage said during the official inauguration. The company's energy portfolio represents 68 percent of renewable energy produced in the Gulf region, where remains at an infancy stage.

The features long lines of parabolic mirrors spread over an area equivalent to 285 football pitches in the desert of the Western Region, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Abu Dhabi.

The 192 rows of loops collect heat that drives turbines to generate power that would save 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road.

Automatic trucks are deployed to dust the mirrors in this desert location where sand poses a serious challenge to the efficiency of heat collectors. Masdar owns 60 percent of the project, while France's Total and Spain's Abengoa Solar own 20 percent each.

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the federation of the .

It sits on proven oil reserves totalling 98.2 billion barrels—95 percent of the UAE's reserves, which are the world's seventh largest. It also has a large wealth of gas.

The UAE's leaders were on site for the ceremonial opening, led by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayad Al-Nahayan and his vice president, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

"The UAE today is the first in the Middle East and OPEC (oil exporting organisation) to begin producing renewable energy, in addition to having hydrocarbon exports," said Jaber.

Total's head of New Energies, Phillipe Boisseau, said the Shams venture is a natural outcome of the established relation with Abu Dhabi in the energy sector.

"We share the vision of the need to diversify energy sources," he said.

Abu Dhabi has vied over the past years to establish a name as a centre for renewable energy, starting with forming Masdar and then becoming the host of the newly-formed IRENA renewable energy organisation.

"This is an extraordinary moment for us," said IRENA's chief Adnan Amin following the inauguration.

He said Shams 1 is the "first massive step" towards having the oil-rich Middle East becoming also a centre for renewable energy.

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2 / 5 (16) Mar 17, 2013
He said Shams 1 is the "first massive step" towards having the oil-rich Middle East becoming also a centre for renewable energy.

Meanwhile the republicans and the top few percent of other people continue to bankrupt the U.S. government and economy, and undermine any efforts to develop new energy technologies or infrastructure.

How ironic that the republicans, the supposedly "christian family values" party*, would be the ones to sell out the western world to the insanity of the Muslims in the middle denying our own people's development of these technologies and infrastructure.

* of course, we know now that the Republicans care for neither Christians, nor families, nor values, but increasing the net worth of the very wealthy. It's all about deceiving the masses to believe you're on "their" side, when in reality you're all in it for yourself.

A mere 14 years worth of oil at U.S. consumption rates, or just 5 years or less at world consumption rates.
1.4 / 5 (10) Mar 17, 2013
I figure they'll be billing those homeowners about $300 per month for that electricity. At those rates, they will have payed off the cost of that installation in about 7 and a half years. Actually, that's a pretty good investment, one that pays off to the tune of $80 million per year after break-even.
not rated yet Mar 17, 2013
There isn't storage so the 100MW figure is peak with the plant spending most of it's time at 0 output. They can probably average it out to about 500MWh/day so they won't actually feed 20k homes, they'll feed a grid which will pull back it's burn rate to accommodate the extra source.

PV panels are selling for a 6th of the installed price. The also suffer from lack of storage and dust so all in all their system sounds very expensive.

Their website says they need a square mile of desert to collect this and if they had storage it would probably yield 20MW/sq mi.

This sounds terribly expensive and intensive.
1 / 5 (10) Mar 18, 2013
It is a pretty stupid project . The reason is simple , those arabs invest $30,000 per home , while you can buy buy panels for 5 a 10 thousand dollars per household . Or is it 200,000 homes instead of 20,000 ?
1 / 5 (1) Mar 18, 2013
I have a friend from UAE, and he once said they tend to leave lights on when they leave their house, because electricity practically doesn't cost anything for them. After this installation, that situation may be changing.
not rated yet Mar 18, 2013
I am a huge proponent of using solar energy to diversify our electrical energy production and reduce carbon emissions. This is a great first step for Masdar and the UAE in leading the push for more concentrated solar power projects. Job well done!

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