Abdul Aziz Al Obaidli, Emirati Mechanical/Process Engineer of the Shams 1 project, points out the huge solar panels at the site in Madinat Zayed on a media tour on Thursday. The Dh2 billion project, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is scheduled to open next year and will generate enough energy to power 20,000 homes. Shams 1 will directly contribute to Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving seven per cent renewable power generation by 2020. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Shams 1, described as the largest solar power project of its kind in the world, will be completed by the end of this year and is expected to be officially inagurated in the first quarter of 2013, renewable energy and sustainable technology enterprise Masdar has announced.

“The exact date will depend on the various stakeholders’ agendas,” Masdar told Gulf News. Shams means Sun in Arabic language.

Yousuf Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company, told Gulf News: “Shams 1 is the largest concentrated solar power project in the world. Developing a project of this scale is a significant achievement for Abu Dhabi, Masdar and its partners, Total and Abengoa.” he said.

Al Ali added that the project indicates a strategic move in the direction of renewable energy. “Shams 1 reinforces Abu Dhabi’s commitment to investing and deploying renewable energy both locally and internationally,” he said.

Work on the project started in the third quarter of 2010 at an approximate cost of Dh2 billion with the stated purpose of generating enough energy to power 20,000 homes.

Al Ali had earlier told Gulf News that Shams 1 will be in the top solar projects on a global scale. “Once completed, Shams 1 will be one of the largest concentrated solar power [CSP] plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 square kilometres with a capacity of approximately 100 MW,” he said.

“Shams 1 is a joint venture between Masdar [60 per cent], Total [20 per cent], and Abengoa [20 per cent].”

Al Ali said the power plant has been developed under a contract that ensures ownership and operation for 25 years. “Companies that took part in the development of the project offered unique technology to operate the system,” he said.

Shams 1, the first utility-scale commercial solar power project in the Middle East, will consist of 258,048 parabolic trough mirrors, 192 solar collector assembly loops with 8 solar collector assemblies per loop, 768 solar collector assembly units, and 27,648 absorber pipes, Al Ali said.

“It uses the CSP technology and parabola shapes means that solar thermal electricity is generated by focusing sunlight, concentrated by mirrors, reflects to heat a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam to drive a steam turbine,” he said explaining how Shams 1 is different from other solar power projects.

He added that this technology helps to create efficient, reliable and clean electricity. “As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute to Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7 per cent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020.”

Shams 1 covers an area than can accommodate 285 football pitches.