Dubai Awards 700 Megawatt Solar CSP Contract For Mammoth Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park


The Gulf emirate of Dubai announced on Saturday the contract for the mammoth Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a 700 megawatt solar CSP extension awarded to a consortium made up of Chinese-based Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power.

Announced on Saturday, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) awarded the contract to build the 700 megawatt (MW) fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park — a massive solar park which is intended to generate 1,000 MW by 2020 and a whopping 5,000 MW by 2030. The park started out small with a 13 MW solar PV first phase, which became operational in 2013. This was followed by a 200 MW solar PV second phase which began operation earlier this year, and the 800 MW third phase is expected to begin operations by 2020.

The fourth phase of the park’s development starts with a first stage 700 MW concentrating solar power (CSP), which was awarded to Chinese-based Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, and is expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020. The AED14.2 billion ($3.87 billion) project is currently set to be the single largest CSP project in the world, and was awarded to the consortium of Shanghai Electric and ACWA Power at an impressive LCOE bid of USD 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kW/h) — making it cost-competitive with fossil fuel generated electricity without subsidy. According to ACWA Power, “The levelised tariff, the size of the plant and the dispatch methodologies places the CSP technology, with no carbon or other polluting particulate emissions, in direct tariff competition with fossil fuel power generation for the first time.”

The selling point for CSP, as described by ACWA Power, is its ability “to collect energy from the sun, which can be used to generate entirely renewable energy based electricity not just during the day while the sun is shining but throughout the night just as a gas, oil or coal-fired power plant does.” CSP technology is based around a central solar tower which focuses sunlight into surrounding parabolic troughs which collect the energy — hence the “concentrating” aspect of its name.

“Awarding this strategic project supports the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to promote sustainability, and make Dubai a global centre for clean energy and a green economy,” said His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD&CEO of DEWA.

“This vision is supported by the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s total power output to 7% by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050. Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.”

“The confirmation of our 700 MW CSP bid for the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park represents a pivotal moment for the solar industry and the efforts in the region to reach a clean energy future,” added ACWA Power Chairman Mr. Mohammad Abunayyan. “ACWA Power is proud to continue to be recognised as a partner of choice by DEWA and to support the efforts of making Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 a reality.”