Abu Dhabi’s Masdar project has officially inaugurated the world’s largest solar thermal power project, after yesterday bringing online the 100MW Shams 1 concentrated solar power (CSP) plant.
The $600m project, which was developed in partnership with oil giant Total and Spanish energy developer and solar specialist Abengoa, is now expected to displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and act as a forerunner for further CSP projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in the Middle East,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar in a statement. “Just like the rest of the word, the region is faced with meeting its rising demand for energy, while also working to reduce its carbon footprint. Shams 1 is a significant milestone, as large-scale renewable energy is proving it can deliver electricity that is sustainable, affordable and secure.”
The facility, which covers an area equivalent to 285 football fields in western Abu Dhabi, makes use of parabolic trough technology, featuring more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking solar collectors. The troughs concentrate the heat onto oil oil-filled pipes, which are then used to produce steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity.
Masdar said the project also features a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption, described as “a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi”.
“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, in a statement. “We share Abu Dhabi’s vision that renewables have a promising future alongside fossil energies… As such, we are pleased to accompany the Emirate in the diversification of its energy mix.”
The official opening of the new project represents the latest in a series of milestones for the high profile Masdar project, which has committed to establishing Abu Dhabi as a major global renewable energy hub and investor, featuring the world’s first zero carbon city, new renewables-powered desalination infrastructure, and stakes in large scale renewable energy projects around the world.