World’s tallest solar tower to go up in Dubai: $3.8bn contract

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced on Saturday that it was awarding a $3.8bn contract for the fourth phase of its flagship solar park to Shanghai Electric and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia.

The 700MW project will include a 260m-high concentrating solar tower, the tallest yet built in a solar farm. This will contain a "target" that will be used to collect the energy reflected by the plant’s mirrors and use it to power steam turbines.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park is located about 50km south of Dubai. Its first 13MW phase, built by US firm First Solar, went online in October 2013. This was followed by a 200MW second phase, built by Spanish contractor TSK and ACWA, which was commissioned in March. A 800MW third phase is presently being built by a consortium led by Abu Dhabi’s Future Energy Company, which is associated with the Masdar eco-city.

Subsequent phases will bring the park’s installed capacity to 5GW of electricity by 2030, making it a challenger for the title of the world’s largest, a title that is presently held by the 650MW Kamuthi plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The final cost is expected to be $13.6bn.

The park is notable for the low cost of the energy generated. Shanghai and ACWA have set the extension’s levelised cost of electricity at 7.3 cents per kW/h. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the chief executive of DEWA described this as the "lowest cost in the world".

MBR is part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, to transform Dubai into "an international hub for clean energy and green economy", by providing 7% of Dubai’s power output from clean resources by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.

Image: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inspects the park named after himself (Government of Dubai)

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