Shams, one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power plants (CSP), celebrated its 7th anniversary on March 17.
Since its inauguration in 2013, Shams has generated a total of 1,500 gigawatts and displaced around 1,225,000 tonnes of C0₂. Operated by Shams Power Company, which is owned by Masdar, Total and Abu Dhabi Pension Fund, Shams has played a key role in helping to shape the renewable energy sector in the region.
The pioneering 100-megawatt plant has paved the way for other ambitious clean energy projects both in the UAE and internationally, such as the 1,177MW Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant, Mohammed bin Rashid A Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai and Masdar’s three CSP plants in Spain – Gemasolar and Valle 1&2.
Shams also represented the world’s largest financing transaction for a solar energy project in 2011, when the company announced financial close of the US$600 million project, giving other governments and investors the confidence to invest in proven clean energy technologies.
“Looking back over the past seven operating years and almost 10 years since the commencement of this project, makes us proud and privileged to be a part of this visionary venture. By undertaking this investment, UAE leaders were among the first in the world and the first in MENA region who recognised the importance of clean energy, sustainability and diversification of our growth,” said Majed Al Awadhi, General Manager, Shams Power Company.
“Today, when clean energy prices have set records after each single round of auctions, it may look like the most logical technology to be deployed. However, this could not have been achieved without the leading companies who boldly invested when clean energy was still called an alternative energy and was considered too expensive and risky for many others.”
Located 120 kilometres from Abu Dhabi in the Al Dhafra region, Shams powers more than 20,000 homes and displaces 175,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The plant covers an area of 2.5-square-kilometres, or the equivalent of 285 football fields, and is made up of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors.
“Today, utility-scale solar plants are increasingly common in the Middle East and without question, projects like Shams helped to pave the way,” said Yousif Al Ali, Executive Director, Masdar Clean Energy and Chairman of Shams Power Company. “Congratulations to the management and staff of Shams Power Company, and to its shareholders, as we celebrate the 7th anniversary of Shams, one of the world’s most distinctive and iconic renewable energy projects and a key chapter in the sustainability story of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “Celebrating today with my Masdar colleagues, and our fellow shareholders in Shams Power Company, the 7th anniversary of Shams, the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world at the time of its inauguration in 2013 and, in many ways, the foundation stone of the global renewable energy portfolio Masdar has built over the last 14 years. Besides powering tens of thousands of UAE homes, Shams provides jobs and training, and is a source of civic pride for the Madinat Zayed community. Happy 7th anniversary to all the team at Shams Power Company!”