The Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) has announced the award for the development of the world’s largest solar power plant. The project was awarded to a consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) and Masdar, with partners EDF and JinkoPower, to develop the 2 GW Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Independent Power Producer (IPP) project, which will be located approximately 35 kilometers from Abu Dhabi city. The project’s power purchase agreement (PPA) and shareholders’ agreement were signed with EWEC.
The rigorous procurement process resulted in one of the most cost-competitive tariffs for solar PV energy, set at AED 4.97 fils/kWh (USD 1.35 cents/kWh) on a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) basis. Upon full commercial operation, the plant is expected to reduce Abu Dhabi’s CO2 emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes per year, equivalent to removing approximately 470,000 cars from the road.
Othman Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of EWEC, said: “We are delighted to work with our partners and sign a PPA with a record-low tariff for solar power. We are working to secure long-term energy supply and reinforce solar power’s integral role in meeting current and future energy needs. Combined with key technological advances, the Al Dhafra Solar PV project will have a significant impact on diversifying the approach to our current electricity supply, and drive our strategic plan to further contribute towards the sector’s transformation in water and electricity production, as we develop a low-carbon grid in the UAE.”
Through this project, 60 percent will be owned by a consortium comprising TAQA and Masdar, while the remaining 40 percent will be owned by EDF and JinkoPower. The project’s financial closure is expected to occur in Q3 2020, enabling initial power generation in H1 2022 and full generation by H2 2022. Once fully operational, the plant will increase Abu Dhabi’s solar power capacity to approximately 3.2 GW.
Jasim Husain Thabet, Group CEO and Managing Director at TAQA, said: “The Al Dhafra Solar PV plant is a benchmark project for our nation and the global energy sector. The project’s low tariff and utilisation of best-in-class technology further demonstrate the feasibility of utility-scale renewable energy projects that are accelerating our nation’s progress on meeting the ambitious energy objectives outlined in the UAE Energy Strategy 2050. Once fully operational, the plant will increase Abu Dhabi’s solar power capacity to approximately 3.2 GW.”
The Al Dhafra Solar PV project is expected to provide approximately 160,000 households across the UAE with electricity. It will be larger than TAQA’s existing 1.2 GW ‘Noor Abu Dhabi’ solar plant, which is currently the world’s largest operational single-project solar PV plant.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “Through the award of the Al Dhafra project, the UAE is affirming once again its determination to lead the global transition to cleaner energy sources, deploying the latest advances in solar power technology at tremendous scale cost efficiently. At Masdar, we are honoured to join EWEC, TAQA, EDF, JinkoPower, and the many other prestigious partners involved in this outstanding project. We are excited to be working with them to realise the world’s largest single-site solar power plant in Abu Dhabi, building on our existing portfolio of world-class projects in the UAE, including Shams in Madinat Zayed in Abu Dhabi, and the third phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.”
Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President Renewable Energies and Chief Executive Officer of EDF Renewables, said: “EDF has a strong and close relationship with the UAE, providing the country with cutting-edge technology and supporting its energy policies for the long term. With this new project, we are honoured and delighted to be able to continue this strategic partnership. For EDF, the signing of the PPA for Al Dhafra Solar PV is a testimony of the confidence that the government and EWEC have in our industrial abilities. The project will use the latest in crystalline, bifacial solar technology delivering electricity to the highest efficiency and at a world record-low tariff in such irradiation conditions. It will support the UAE’s unique vision and leadership position in the development of a diverse range of renewable energy solutions that will provide sustainable and efficient power for generations to come.”
Charles Bai, President of JinkoPower International Business, commented: “Jinko is once again privileged to be a partner in developing the new largest PV generation plant in the world, following our successful partnership in building the current world’s largest single solar project, Noor Abu Dhabi. The UAE energy industry is known for its world-class standards, operating with fairness and transparency. It is an attractive environment for investors and underpins our strategy to continue investing in renewable energy projects in the UAE. The Al Dhafra Solar PV project raises the bar in the energy sector, and also sets the foundation to demonstrate how new records can be made. Today, Jinko and our partners are proud to begin to execute the world’s largest PV project and diligently deliver the latest world class technology and construction methods.”