China buys into vast Dubai solar plant

China’s Silk Road Fund will acquire a 24.01% equity stake in the world’s largest single-site solar thermal plant, which is being built in Dubai.

Chinese banks have already agreed to lend 80% of the $3.87bn needed to build the facility.

The deal was signed in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said the scheme’s developer, Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, on Sunday (22 July).

The 700MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project will have the world’s tallest CSP central tower, which receives sunlight reflected from an array of mirrors in parabolic troughs to heat molten salt and produce steam to generate power night and day, including for seawater desalination.

The project is part of Dubai’s plan to generate 25% of its power renewably by 2030, and is expected to save 2.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

"This co-investment also is in keeping with our investment strategy of efficiently deploying our own capital to retain a meaningful level of equity interest in each project that is sufficient to permit us to be the long-term investor with de facto control over the investment and for us to remain focused on reliably delivering electricity and desalinated water at low cost," said Paddy Padmanathan, chief executive of ACWA Power.

Image: Artist’s conception of the CSP solar plant, by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

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