UAE-based clean energy company Masdar announced the launch of Shams 1, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation.
The 100 MW plant, located in the western region of Abu Dhabi, was inaugurated by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s President and Abu Dhabi ruler.
The plant will generate clean energy to power 20,000 homes in the UAE.
“Expanding our leadership into renewable sources of power demonstrates the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to maintaining its position as a major provider of energy,” said Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major milestone in our country’s economic diversification and a step toward long-term energy security,” he said.
Shams 1 has been designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60 per cent), Total (20 per cent) and Abengoa Solar (20 per cent).
The plant, spread across 2.5 square kms – or 285 football fields, incorporates parabolic trough technology and features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors.
By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. The project uses a booster heater to heat steam as it enters the turbine and also features a dry-cooling system that reduces water consumption.
Including Shams 1, Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio now accounts for almost 68 per cent of the Gulf’s renewable energy capacity and close to 10 per cent percent of the world’s installed CSP capacity, the company said in a statement.
“With the demand for energy rising exponentially, the region is undergoing a major transformation in how it generates electricity,” said Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “Renewable energy is fundamental to achieving a diversified energy mix and extending the life of our precious hydrocarbon resources.
“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,” he said.
The Shams 1 project will displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year, equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees, or taking 15,000 cars off the road, the statement said.
Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar said: “The Middle East holds nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential. The abundance of solar energy is an opportunity to integrate sustainable, clean sources of power that address energy security and climate change. The region needs more projects like Shams 1, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of future energy.”