Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi Inaugurates World’s Largest Single-Site Solar Power Plant Ahead of COP28

  • HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi, unveils 2 gigawatt (GW) Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, already supplying clean, emissions free electricity to the UAE national grid
  • The world-leading, single-site solar power plant will power almost 200,000 homes and eliminate over 2.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year
  • During construction, almost 4 million bi-facial solar panels installed at an average rate of 10 megawatts (MW) a day
  • UAE ranked second in the world in per capita solar energy usage

ABU DHABI, UAE, Nov. 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC – Masdar, and its partners Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), EDF Renewables and JinkoPower, together with procurer Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), have inaugurated the world’s largest single-site solar power plant ahead of the UAE hosting the UN climate change conference, COP28.

The 2GW Al Dhafra Solar PV project was inaugurated by HH Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi and in the presence of HH Lt. General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan reaffirmed that the UAE, under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, is proceeding with its strategic plans to enhance its energy security by implementing a diverse range of flexible energy generation that is contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions, while also advancing the economy.

HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: “As the UAE prepares to host COP28, this pioneering project reflects the country’s ongoing commitment to raising its share of clean energy, reducing its carbon emissions and supporting the global efforts on climate action” His Highness added: “We are witnessing, day after day, project after project, that the UAE is at the global forefront of developing and adopting innovative clean energy solutions. We are achieving energy security, while also contributing to building a bright future for future generations to come.”

Located 35 kilometers from Abu Dhabi city, the landmark solar plant was built in a single phase and generates enough electricity to power almost 200,000 homes, displacing 2.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Al Dhafra Solar PV spans more than 20 square kilometers of desert and created 4,500 jobs during the peak of the construction phase. It uses almost 4 million solar panels which deploy innovative bi-facial technology, ensuring sunlight is captured on both sides of the panels to maximize yield.

In less than fifteen years, the UAE has become a global leader in solar energy. In 2009, Masdar switched on the country’s first solar project at 10MW – today, Al Dhafra Solar PV represents a plant that is 200 times that size. As the countdown to COP28 in the UAE begins, this mega project initially achieved the world’s lowest tariff at financial close, and demonstrates the country’s longstanding commitment to decarbonization, at home and around the world.

The UAE is also a world leader in solar energy use, according to the latest data from The Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy, ranking second globally in terms of per capita solar energy consumption. In under a decade, the country has surpassed leading nations by installing solar energy, as part of the country’s energy diversification.

HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan listened to a detailed explanation from HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Chairman of Masdar and COP28 President-Designate, and a number of Masdar employees about the project, its strategic importance, and its role in enhancing national energy security.

HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Chairman of Masdar and COP28 President-Designate, said: “Al Dhafra is part of a long and proud history of energy innovation, made possible thanks to the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. This world-leading solar project demonstrates remarkable progress in solar power efficiency, innovation and cost competitiveness – setting a new record-low tariff. To create Al Dhafra, Masdar brought together three partners from around the world: TAQA, EDF of France and JinkoPower of China. With just days to go before the start of COP28, I will be asking the world to unite and deliver the energy transition by tripling renewables capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. Al Dhafra is an example of the scale of the ambition needed around the world.”

The delivery of the project was made possible after global energy leaders formed a strategic partnership and harnessed their combined expertise. Al Dhafra Solar PV, planned and procured by EWEC, has broken records in terms of cost for utility-scale solar projects. Initially the project led to one of the most competitive tariffs for solar power set at AED 4.97 fils/kWh (USD 1.35 cents/kWh), which upon financial close, was further improved to AED 4.85 fils/kWh (USD 1.32 cents/kWh).

The ceremony was attended by HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; HE Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, UAE Minister of Investment and Deputy Chairman of Masdar; HE Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of Mubadala; HE Engineer Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Department of Energy in Abu Dhabi; HE Jabr Mohammed Al Suwaidi Minister State; HE Zhang Yiming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the UAE; Jasim Husain Thabet, TAQA’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director; Othman Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of EWEC; Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar; Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President Renewable Energies and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDF Renewables; and Charles Bai, President of Jinko Power International Business.

HE Engineer Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Department of Energy in Abu Dhabi, affirmed that the inauguration of Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic marks a new and strategic step that enhances the United Arab Emirates’ and Abu Dhabi’s position in the clean and renewable energy sector. It also underscores their active role in driving global growth in this sector, aligning with the wise leadership’s commitment to promoting clean technologies and renewable energy solutions on a broad scale, as well as strengthening global efforts in climate action and advancing the implementation of the UAE Net Zero 2050. HE Awaidha Murshed Al Marar added: “The project contributes to creating opportunities for sustainable economic and social growth, while simultaneously achieving a balance between sustainable development and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It will also promote the creation of a knowledge-based economy, harness clean technology, and create a diversified mix of energy sources.”

HE Awaidha Murshed Al Marar added: “The announcement of the Plant’s inauguration is of special significance as it coincides with the country’s preparations to host the global climate event, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28). This further strengthens the national efforts aimed at producing photovoltaic solar energy at a competitive cost, providing substantial support for Abu Dhabi’s commitment to diversify clean and renewable energy sources, as well as the strategies and policies of the Department of Energy in this regard.”

Jasim Husain Thabet, TAQA’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, said: “TAQA is very proud to have played a central role with our partners in delivering the world’s largest single-site solar PV plant, our second major solar plant in the UAE. With COP28 fast approaching, the 2GW Al Dhafra PV project shows the world what can be achieved through a commitment to partnership and technological progress. With a portfolio including two of the world’s largest solar projects and as provider of the grid connections, TAQA is at the heart of driving the transformation to a cleaner and more sustainable power sector. As a global integrated utility company championing low-carbon power and water, we are focused on working with partners to deliver affordable, secure and sustainable energy and water to communities across the UAE and beyond.”

Othman Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of EWEC, said: “EWEC is the leading entity in the region transitioning energy production to renewable and clean energy sources, and today’s inauguration of Al Dhafra Solar PV, the new world’s largest single-site solar power plant, is a key step on this important journey. Alongside Noor Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra Solar PV raises EWEC’s solar energy production capacity while also significantly decreasing carbon emissions associated with electricity production. We have also recently commissioned the development of two additional solar power projects of the same size and scale as Al Dhafra Solar PV, which will proudly make Abu Dhabi home to four of the largest solar power plants in the world. Furthermore, we expect to commission the development of an additional 1GW of new solar power energy projects in Abu Dhabi every year for the next 10 years as part of our strategic plan to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of energy production, ensuring the UAE is a global leader in solar power and advancing the nation’s economic development and diversification towards its net-zero goal.”

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “Today’s inauguration is a proud moment for Masdar, the UAE and our strategic partners, who have been instrumental in our shared success. Developing the world’s largest single-site solar power plant is a milestone achievement that required vision, partnership and a pioneering spirit. For over 17 years, Masdar has been spearheading renewable energy projects in the UAE and around the world. As the UAE’s clean energy powerhouse, we are active in countries all around the world. We have ambitions to grow to 100GW by 2030. As the world looks for ways to accelerate the energy transition, Al Dhafra Solar PV stands as a world-class example of how we can work together to build a greener, cleaner future.”

Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President Renewable Energies and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDF Renewables, said: “We are very honored that this unique large-scale solar power plant is inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This key milestone would not have been possible without the full support provided by the UAE government and authorities, the Department of Energy, and in particular our client EWEC, and without the outstanding commitment shown by the project team, partners, and contractors. At the forefront of the COP28, EDF is proud to support the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative. EDF is convinced that to build a carbon neutral future while preserving economic development and social prosperity the world needs to, progressively but faster, develop towards a mix of low CO2 emissions solutions. This mix of solutions should include renewable energies of course but also energy efficiency, nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage as well as clean H2. This way we will combine the need of energy producers and energy consumers, of richer and poorer countries, of economy and ecology.”

Charles Bai, President of Jinko Power International Business, said: “Today manifests a critical milestone achieved for the world’s largest single site and single phase solar power plant. We are grateful to the Government of Emirate Abu Dhabi, Ministry of Energy, EWEC and our partners as well as other stakeholders in their incredible support and commitment that makes today a day of long memory and a record of world’s renewable energy history. Jinko Power is proud of delivering another world’s record breaking solar power project to the Emirate after our successful delivery of Noor Abu Dhabi project despite tremendous challenging circumstances arising from global pandemic. The inauguration today demonstrates once again the robust auction programs designed and executed by the Government of Abu Dhabi. We remain fully committed to continue our contribution to the goal of carbon neutrality to Abu Dhabi and the world.”

TAQA owns 40 percent of the project, Masdar owns 20 percent while the remaining partners, EDF Renewables and Jinko Power, own a 20 percent stake each. The plant will supply power to the procurer EWEC – following the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed in 2020 – and will raise Abu Dhabi’s solar power production capacity to 3.2GW.

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About Masdar

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is the UAE’s clean energy champion and one of the largest and fastest growing companies of its kind in the world, advancing the development and deployment of renewable energy and green hydrogen technologies to address global sustainability challenges. Established in 2006, Masdar is active around the world helping nations achieve their clean energy objectives and advance sustainable development. Masdar is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), and under this ownership the company is targeting a renewable energy portfolio capacity of at least 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and an annual green hydrogen production capacity of up to 1 million tonnes by the same year.

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HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan with HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber.
2GW Al Dhafra Photovoltaic Solar Plant
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