Masdar, along with its partners French energy company Total and Spain’s energy infrastructure company Abengoa, has launched Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world. The US $600 million project took three years to build.
“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in the Middle East,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “Just like the rest of the word, the region is faced with meeting its rising demand for energy, while also working to reduce its carbon footprint. Shams 1 is a significant milestone, as large-scale renewable energy is proving it can deliver electricity that is sustainable, affordable and secure.”
Located in the UAE’s Western Region, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Shams 1 was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa Solar (20 percent). With the addition of Shams 1, Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio accounts for almost 68 percent of the Gulf’s renewable energy capacity and nearly 10 percent of the world’s installed CSP capacity.
“Abu Dhabi is investing and incubating a new energy industry, domestically and internationally,” said Dr. Al Jaber. “Through Masdar, the UAE is redefining the role it plays in providing the world with energy. From precious hydrocarbon exports to sophisticated renewable energy systems, we are balancing the energy mix and diversifying our economy – moving toward a more sustainable future. Today, the UAE is the only OPEC nation delivering both hydrocarbons and renewable energy to the international market.”
Covering an area of 2.5 km², or 285 football fields, Shams 1 generates electricity to power 20,000 homes in the UAE. Also, because solar power is generated during peak demand, the UAE is able to reduce the need for “peak shaving” generators, which are expensive and idle most of the year.
Incorporating the latest in parabolic trough technology, Shams 1 features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors. By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. In addition, the solar project uses a booster to heat steam as it enters the turbine to dramatically increase the cycle’s efficiency. The project also includes a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption – a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi.