Abu Dhabi: Solar energy capital of the world

The world’s biggest solar power plant is being developed by an Abu Dhabi-led consortium.

The Al Dhafra Solar PV (photovoltaic) plant will deliver solar energy to around 160,000 homes in the UAE — more than the Nour Abu Dhabi planet at Sweihan, which is currently the world’s biggest independent solar power plant.

The consortium is led by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, Taqa, and Masdar, the renewable energy specialists in partnership with the French company, EDF Renewables, and JinkoPower, the Chinese solar power developer. The Emirates Water and Electricity Emirates Company (EWEC) awarded the project to the consortium after it offered the lowest tariff price at 1.35 US cents per kilowatt.

The new station will help reduce carbon emissions from the emirate of Abu Dhabi by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes per year — the equivalent of removing about 470,000 cars from the road. It will have a capacity of 2 gigawatts but will produce 3.2 gw of solar energy in the emirate once it is operational. Taqa’s Nour Abu Dhabi solar plant has a 1.2 gw capacity.

The Al Dhafra plant is expected to start generating electricity in the first half of 2022 and should be operating fully by the second half of that year.

Ownership of the project will be split, with 60 percent owned by Taqa and Masdar and the remaining 40 percent owned by EDF and JinkoPower.

Jasim Thabet, group chief executive and managing director at Taqa, called the scheme “a benchmark project for our nation and the global energy sector”, which will use “best-in-class technology”.

JinkoPower were also involved in developing the Nour Abu Dhabi plant. In a statement, the Chinese company said: “The success, transparency and fairness of the authorities in Abu Dhabi based on our experience in the previous project of Sweihan lead us to be engaged again in the Al Dhafra project, setting new benchmarks in the industry.”

The company said it had bid for the project because it was “attracted by the tendering philosophy of EWEC, which sets a clear boundary of obligations and responsibilities for both EWEC and bidding consortia and weighs both quality and cost in parallel”.

The Al Dhafra plant is only the latest step in the UAE’s long-term plans to generate nearly half — 44 percent — of its energy from clean sources by 2050.

Dubai has set a target of 25 percent energy from renewables by 2030, rising to 75 percent by 2050. As part of those efforts, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is building the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park, which is to be the largest of its kind and expected to generate  5 gw of energy by 2030. is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



Receive our newsletters right in your inbox.