Masdar Launches Shams 1, the World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant in Operation
Today, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi officially inaugurated Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world. Located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, the 100-megawatt, grid connected power plant will generate clean energy to power 20,000 homes in the UAE.
His Highness President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed his pride in the inauguration of Shams 1, calling it a major achievement in the UAE’s goal of energy and economic diversification.
“Expanding our leadership into renewable sources of power demonstrates the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to maintaining its position as a major provider of energy,” said His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major milestone in our country’s economic diversification and a step toward long-term energy security.
“We are proud of the young Emiratis that worked on this project,” said His Highness. “The expertise they gained, working closely with international companies and building a project of such scale, is the type of human capital development that will enable our country to secure long-term energy leadership.
“Shams 1 is a strategic investment in our country’s economic, social and environmental prosperity,” added His Highness. “The domestic production of renewable energy extends the life of our country’s valuable hydrocarbon resources and supports the growth of a promising new industry.”
The ceremony was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as other members of the UAE leadership.
Holding nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential, the Middle East and North Africa is poised for unprecedented growth in renewable energy.
“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a breakthrough for renewable energy development in the Middle East,” said His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “With the demand for energy rising exponentially, the region is undergoing a major transformation in how it generates electricity. In fact, the Middle East is poised for major investments in renewables, and Shams 1 proves the economic and environmental advantage of deploying large-scale solar projects.”
“Our wise leadership recognizes the immediate and future benefits of renewable energy,” added Dr. Al Jaber. “Investments in sophisticated projects like Shams 1train our future energy leaders, create specialized jobs and encourage economic development. Renewable energy is fundamental to achieving a diversified energy mix and extending the life of our precious hydrocarbon resources. Clean energy, is aligned with the legacy of conservation instilled in us by our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”
Shams 1 was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa Solar (20 percent).With the addition of Shams 1, Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio accounts for almost 68 percent of the Gulf’s renewable energy capacity and close to 10% percent of the world’s installed CSP capacity.
“Abu Dhabi is investing and incubating a new energy industry,” added Dr. Al Jaber. “Through Masdar, we are redefining the role our country will play in delivering energy to the world. From precious hydrocarbons exports to commercially viable renewable energy projects, we are extending our legacy for future generations.”
The innovative CSP project reduces the UAE’s carbon emissions, displacing approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year, an equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees, or taking 15,000 cars off the road. With solar power generated during peak demand, the UAE can reduce its need for “peak shaving” generators, which are expensive and idle most of the year.
"As a long-lasting partner of Abu Dhabi, we are particularly proud to have been part of the challenging adventure that was Shams 1 construction. This is a major step in the process of transforming the capabilities of solar power in the region,” said Christophe de Margerie, chairman and CEO of Total. “We share Abu Dhabi’s vision that renewables have a promising future alongside fossil energies. Total is today a world leader in solar industry. As such, we are pleased to accompany the Emirate in the diversification of its energy mix.”
Covering an area of 2.5 km² – or 285 football fields – Shams 1 incorporates the latest in parabolic trough technology and features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors. By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. The project uses a booster heater to heat steam as it enters the turbine, dramatically boosting the cycle’s efficiency. Shams 1 also features a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption – a critical advantage in the arid desert.
“The Middle East holds nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential,” said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar. “The abundance of solar energy is an opportunity to integrate sustainable, clean sources of power that address energy security and climate change. The region needs more projects like Shams 1, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of future energy.”
A source of great pride, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi is the centre of the country’s hydrocarbon industry and represents the roots of its Bedouin heritage. Today, with the addition of Shams 1, the region is evolving. Alongside oil fields, renewable energy and peaceful nuclear power is being developed to support the country’s long-term energy requirements.