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Dubai harvests desert sun at vast solar plant

Published Mar 21, 2017 06:28am

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DUBAI: Dubai on Monday completed a solar plant big enough to power 50,000 homes as part of a plan to generate three-quarters of its energy from renewables by 2050.

The 200 megawatt plant sprawls over 4.5 square kilometres (1.73 square miles) of desert and includes some 2.3 million photovoltaic panels.

It is the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park, which is set to pump out a total of 1,000 megawatts by 2020, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said.

The $326m (300m euro) second phase was built by a consortium including Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and Spain’s TSK.

DEWA chief Saeed al-Tayer said the operators would sell power to the public utility company.

The project is the “largest and first solar power project of its kind in the region”, he said.

“The state has begun early in preparing to say goodbye to the last drop of oil, through a clear strategy including investments in power generation plants that use various solar power technologies,” Tayer said.

The solar park’s first phase came online in 2013, with 152,000 panels producing 13 megawatts.

DEWA said in December the second phase of the project had set a world record for cheap solar energy, at 5.6 US cents (5.2 euro cents) per kilowatt hour.

Last year, DEWA awarded the third and final phase of the project, an 800 megawatt extension to the park, to a consortium led by Abu Dhabi’s Masdar.

The Gulf emirate currently has a total generating capacity of 10,200 megawatts, Tayer said.

Dubai is part of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, but has few oil reserves itself.

The bulk of crude production is concentrated in Abu Dhabi.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017

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