The oil-rich state of Abu Dhabi has officially opened the “world’s largest” concentrated solar power plant – representing a major milestone in renewable energy development in the Middle East.
With a total capacity of 100MW, the $600 million (£393m) Shams 1 plant is expected to generate clean electricity to power around 20,000 homes in the UAE and displace around 175,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.
It is believed to cover an area of 2.5 km² – or 285 football fields – and includes more than 258,000 trough-shaped mirrors (pictured) rather than PV cells. The mirrors focus on light on an oil-filled pipe running through the centre of the trough and heat it, enabling the plant to produce steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. It uses a booster heater to heat steam as it enters the turbine, dramatically boosting the cycle’s efficiency and also includes a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water usage.
The project was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60%), Total (20%) and Abengoa Solar (20%).
Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar said: “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.”
With the addition of Shams 1, Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio accounts for almost 68% of the Gulf’s renewable energy capacity.