Dubai inks deal for £4bn China-funded solar plant

Dubai officials yesterday signed off the contract to build a 700MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant that will have the tallest CSP tower in the world, at 260m.

Chinese banks are lending 80% of the $3.87bn needed to build the facility, which is the fourth phase of Dubai’s Mohamed bin Rashid Solar Park, billed as the largest thermo-solar power plant in the world.

Equipment supplier Shanghai Electric and Saudi energy developer ACWA Power will build the plant for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) as a public-private partnership, in which they’ll recoup their investment by selling electricity to DEWA.

It will generate power by using mirrors in parabolic troughs to focus sunlight onto the tower, where molten salt stores the extreme heat to drive a steam turbine.

The agreement was signed in Shanghai on 15 April, attended by representatives from the Chinese government, the embassies of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and officials from DEWA and ACWA Power (ACWA Power)

According to the agreement signed yesterday in Shanghai, ACWA will sell the electricity to Dubai for what it called a "record low" 7.3 cents (US) per kilowatt hour.

Lacking its own big reserves of oil or gas – unlike its neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi – Dubai wants 75% of its energy to be renewable by 2050.

Each year, this fourth phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park will Dubai save 2.4 million tons of CO2 and half a million tons of natural gas, said ACWA, eliminating the need to use foreign currency to import gas.

Eighty percent of the cash for the phase is coming from a group of Chinese banks: the Silk Road Fund, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Minsheng Bank.

ACWA called it flagship project for ICBC, and said it would help major Chinese power equipment suppliers such as Shanghai Electric to break into the the international power market.

Top image depicts an earlier phase of the Mohamed bin Rashid Solar Park being developed in Dubai (ACWA Power)

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