This is a headline you may well read more than once in the coming years.
It is also possible that the subsequent world’s-largest-solar-plants may also be built not a million miles away from the current title holder.
As of today, the Noor Abu Dhabi project with a total capacity of 1,177MW is the largest operational single site solar project in the world. It’s important to make the distinction between this and a ‘solar park’. These are essentially areas of land ear-marked for solar and often with ready-to-go grid connections, where multiple projects will be built under the same banner, but developed and financed individually.
The Noor Abu Dhabi project, which is not state-financed is the work of a consortium that includes Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, Japan’s Marubeni Corp and Chinese solar manufacturer Jinko Solar.
The $870 million project was the result of a competitive tender process that will see electricity from the site sold to the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) for around 2.4 cents per kWh, a record at the time of the auction and a record for any completed solar project. It was built by the Indian firm Sterling & Wilson with nearly 3000 people working on site during the peak of activity.
“Noor Abu Dhabi will generate renewable energy and will enable us to improve the use of our natural resources,” said Othman Jumaa Al Ali, CEO, EWEC. “The fact that a project of such scale has been successfully completed on time and on budget highlights our commitment to ensuring sustainable energy for the future and it is a true testament of the Emirate’s delivery capabilities to execute world-class energy projects.”
Yoshiaki Yokota, Chief Operating Officer, Power Business Division of Marubeni Corporation said: “This project represents a significant milestone not only for the United Arab Emirates and the region, but for the global solar industry and for the future of renewable energy. As the Managing Member of this project, Marubeni will contribute to the UAE Energy Strategy through the project’s operations phase and we continue to contribute to the global energy sector as a leading energy solutions provider.”
Records in the solar industry have a habit of falling fast. With a 2GW project put out to tender by EWEC earlier this year, this one might not be moving very far at all.
A framework agreement is in place for 2.6GW of solar power in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. With financial stability, growing demand for electricity, lots of space and even more sunshine, the Arabian Gulf may well hold onto this record for a while.