Masdar News

United Arab Emirates Now Ranks Third Among World Nations in Total Concentrated Solar Power Capacity

03 Jun 2014

Masdar’s100MW Plant in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region Reflects the Strong Growth of CSP inEmerging Markets

Abu Dhabi, UAE – 04 June, 2014: Masdar’s Shams I concentrated solar power (CSP) plant

in Abu Dhabi catapulted the United Arab Emirates to its new ranking as thirdamong the world’s nations in both 2013 CSP technology investment and total CSP capacity.The UAE now ranks only behind Spain and the United States in total CSPgeneration; India and China round out the world’s top five.

The rankings were recently unveiled in a report by REN21, an

international multi-policy stakeholder network that promotes a rapid globaltransition to renewable energy.

According to REN21, the 100 megawatt CSP plant in Abu Dhabi’s western

region is one reason why CSP’s growth in emerging markets almost tripled during2013. Although Spain and the U.S. are still by far the market leaders in CSP,investment in this technology is accelerating most rapidly in regions thatreceive high amounts of daily sunshine—or in industry terminology, high directnormal irradiation (DNI). Worldwide since 2004, global CSP capacity hasincreased 10-fold, and last year surged 36% to a total of 3.4 gigawatts ofenergy generated.

While this industry continues to grow, it is also marked by the use of a

more standardized design. CSP plants in the past decade have incorporatedseveral designs and technologies over the past years, but in 2013, all newlyconstructed CSP plants used the parabolic trough design—which is in use byShams 1. Overall trends in the industry are favoring larger plants to takeadvantage of economies of scale, as in the case of the Shams 1 plant, one ofthe largest CSP plants worldwide.

“We’re pleased to see how high the UAE ranks worldwide in renewable

energy generation, given the country’s commitment to sourcing more sources ofsecure and safe energy,” said Yousif Al Ali, General Manager of Shams 1 PowerCompany. “And the numbers bear fruit: since its launch, Shams 1 has been generatingenough power to electrify 20,000 homes in the UAE and displaces 175,000 tons ofcarbon annually.”

The REN21 report demonstrates how through its investment in CSP

technology, the UAE is leading the region in renewable energy investment whilestrengthening its position as a responsible global energy leader.

The $600 million Shams 1 concentrated solar plant, the largest renewable

energy project in the Middle East, opened in March 2013 and is a partnershipbetween Masdar, Total and Abengoa. The 2.5 square kilometer facility uses solarthermal collectors to concentrate heat from sunlight into a central tube, wherea special oil is heated to 393°C. In turn the heat from the oil generates steamthat drives a turbine, which then powers a steam generator that produceselectricity for Abu Dhabi’s grid.

Among large-scale CSP plants, Shams 1 stands out for its innovative

approach towards water consumption and conservation. Typical CSP plants consumevast quantities of water because of the need to cool and condense steam beforeit is pumped back into the generator. Shams 1 instead uses an air-cooledcondensing system, which saves hundreds of millions of gallons of water annuallywhile maintaining an overall high operational efficiency.