By Andy Sambidge
Project will deliver clean energy to Masdar City with excess supplied to Abu Dhabi's grid.
Masdar, Abu Dhabi's alternative energy initiative, on Thursday announced that construction of the first grid-connected solar power plant in the Middle East was underway.
The plant will initially generate clean electricity to support the ongoing construction activities of Masdar City and later will be the power provider for the Masdar Institute, which opens in late 2009.
The $22 billion Masdar City will be home to 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses. No cars will be allowed in the green city in the desert.
Excess energy generated by the state-of-the-art plant will will be supplied to the Abu Dhabi grid providing Abu Dhabi consumers with their first supply of alternative energy.
The 10MW plant is projected to generate 17,500MWh of clean energy each year with 15,000 tons of annual CO2 savings.
A single kWh of green energy is the carbon-offset equivalent of 0.8 kg depending on an area's network and its energy-producing source.
Once the all 87,777 thin film and photo crystalline silicon panels have been installed, the plant will be grid connected, company chiefs said.
Dr Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said: "This 10MW plant signals a bold step forward in the drive to increase the adoption of alternative energy in the region.
"It provides the foundation on which the construction of Masdar City will be built, and demonstrates the viability and attractiveness for further PV plants to be built within the region.
"More importantly, our drive towards encouraging local companies to form global partnerships and initiate knowledge transfer is an integral component to delivering on the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 set by our leadership."
With a construction cost of $50 million, the plant will be considered one the most cost-efficient PV installation in the world in terms of its projected power output.
With abundant sunshine and vast areas of empty desert, the UAE has the capability to become a world leader in the generation of solar power. Hopefully these projects will continue even if the oil price dips further - these developments should be seen for the long term and should not be cancelled or abandoned based on the whim of the oil price (which as we know is highly volatile).