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Dubai commissions Solar Park phase 2

Dubai has started operations at the AED 1.5bn ($408mn) second phase of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and marked the start of what is expected to be a sea-change in the way the UAE generates its electricity over the coming years.

The DEWA plant will generate 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the grid, enough to power 50,000 household, and reduce Dubai’s carbon emissions by over 200,000 tones.

Saudi-based ACWA Power developed the solar photovoltaic (PV) plant based on the Independent Power Project (IPP) model with First Solar supplying the panels.

ACWA won the contract to develop the plant after bidding $5.6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in early 2015, which at the time was a world record low price for a utility scale solar PV project.

That record was shattered when DEWA accepted a bid of $2.99 cents/kWh for the 800MW third phase of the project which is under construction and due to be commissioned in 2020.

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurated the plant at Seih Al Dahal, Dubai on Monday.

Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan accompanied Sheikh Mohammed.

In his speech, DEWA CEO and MD Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer welcomed Sheikh Mohammed’s long-term vision for clean energy, which directly contributes to the efforts aiming to secure community happiness and welfare.

DEWA will continue to expand the solar plant beyond the third phase and has set a target of producing 5,000MW by 2030. The utility’s installed powergen capacity currently stands at around 10,000MW.

Additional phases are expected to use a technology known as concentrated solar power (CSP) which is more expensive than solar PV but has the advantage of being able to to generate electricity for several hours after the sun sets.

The energy landscape of the UAE is changing fast. Neighbouring Abu Dhabi also has big plans to roll out gigatwatt-level solar power projects in the coming years and is expected to inaugurate the UAE’s first nuclear plant later this year.

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