Announced in January 2012 and named after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Solar Park project is located 50km south of the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It is part of the ‘Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050’ that aims to provide 7% of Dubai’s energy from clean sources by 2020 and 75% by 2050 and is expected to create numerous energy jobs in the UAE.
Solar energy is an optimal energy source in Dubai. The available global irradiation usable by photovoltaic technology averages 2,150 kWh/m2/y (kilowatt hours per square metres per year).
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park was originally scoped to be able to generate 1,000MW but will now have a planned capacity of 5,000MW by 2030 – enough to power 800,000 homes – due to the price of generating solar energy falling (for example, the cost of solar PV panels has reduced by 75% in the 5 years to 2014). The solar farms within the park use PV technology and will also include solar thermal technology and will be built in multiple stages:
- Phase 1 - The first phase of the park was the 13MW DEWA 13 built in 2013. The farm covers the area of 33 football pitches, required more than 1.4 million man hours to complete with a workforce of 1,2800 personnel, but only took a total of 30 weeks to build.
- Phase 2 - Second phase is a 200MW plant expected to be completed and operational in April 2017, which will produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. The consortium of ACWA (85%) and TSK (15%) was selected to construct and operate the facility.
- Phase 3 - The third phase was announced by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and is to be an 800MW farm spearheaded by Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar. The project capacity will be added in stages - 200 MW by April 2018; 300 MW in April 2019; and 300 MW by April 2020. DEWA has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Masdar for $29.90 per megawatt-hour, described as the lowest price PPA in the world.
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