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100MW concentrated solar power plant to be built in the UAE


June 11, 2010

Rendering of the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant

Rendering of the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant

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The largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the Middle East is to be built in Madinat Zayed, approximately 120 km (75 miles) southwest of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). When it becomes operational in 2012, the plant, dubbed Shams 1, will feature some 6,300,000 square-feet of solar parabolic collectors, cover 741 acres of desert and will produce enough electricity to power 62,000 households.

With a capacity of approximately 100MW and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors, Sham 1 represents one of the first steps in the region towards the introduction of sustainable energy sources in an energy market which until now has depended mostly on hydrocarbons. It is expected to displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees or removing 15,000 cars from Abu Dhabi’s roads.

The plant will generate solar thermal electricity through focused sunlight, concentrated by the plant’s parabolic trough collectors, heating a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam that drives a conventional steam turbine. The same technology is being implemented in large-scale commercial solar thermal power stations in Spain and northern Africa.

Shams (which is Arabic for sun) 1 will be built, owned and operated by a consortium including Masdar, an Abu Dhabi renewable energy company, Abengoa Solar, a technology company that will supply the parabolic trough collectors, and Total, one of the world’s major oil and gas groups. Masdar will own a 60 percent share of the plant, while an Abengoa Solar and Total joint venture will own the other 40 per cent.

The plant will directly contribute towards Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving seven percent renewable energy power generation capacity by 2020 and has been approved for a solar incentive premium in the form of a long term Green Power Agreement by the Abu Dhabi Government which will see electricity generated by the plant sold to the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company (ADWEC) under a long-term electricity sales contract.

Construction of Shams 1 will commence in mid 2010, and it is due to go on line in 2012.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

It will be a good experience to test how decreases the efficiency of the process, after a sandstorm or, who knows, a \"desert storm\"...


Didn\'t this country go bankrupt last year and needed another country to front them billions of dollars just so that they could survive? Now they are wasting even more money...Solar is sooooo inefficient it\'s not even worth attempting.


It will be a Mega Solar Project for replication elsewhere. It is interesting to find oil rich UAE will be building the largest concentrated Solar power plant.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Why not just build 62,000 solar powered homes???? No big power lines no line loss and less problem with sand. I wonder how many self- powered homes could be built for the price of one nuke plant or the cost of drilling one oil well?????????


Any power generation technology that helps to move us beyond fossil fuels is to be lauded. Bravo to Sheikh Mohammed of Abu Dhabi.


Like a bartender drinking his own product, oil rich countries have a definite opportunity cost for using the oil instead of exporting it. I agree with the solar on the houses too. Re solar not efficient...ok so it is much more efficient to drill or mine for fossil fuels, extract them, build refineries, refine them, ship them store them, then build power plants, burn the fuel, capture CO2, and then spew tons of CO2 into an already sick atmosphere? All I want from renewables is a renewed hope for a comfortable life on earth for my kids your kids, our communities. Think before you post.

Fabian Rousset

FYI Abu Dhabi never went bankrupt. Dubai had financial difficulties and Abu Dhabi bailed them out. The leadership in Abu Dhabi have foresight, they know that the oil will run out one day and are looking at alternatives. They are not afraid of getting help from the US, UK, Australia, India, etc. to build their renewable energy resources.

Also, solar thermal power is much more efficient than solar PV tech due to economies of scale and low cost per MW. In a sunny and hot country like Abu Dhabi, solar will last for 4 billion years. Can oil claim that?

Good on them!

Edgar Walkowsky

Few folks are willing to work in a nuclear plant.

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