The first molten salt tank hydro test for the parabolic trough plant-2 (PT2) of the $4.4bn fourth phase of Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (MBR) solar park was successfully carried out in May, the project’s lead engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, Shanghai Electric, has said.

“The positive results … laid a crucial foundation for the next phase of the molten salt system commission,” the firm said.

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The test was followed by finalised molten salt pipeline installation inside the concentrated solar power (CSP) tower.

MBR solar park’s fourth phase uses hybrid solar energy technologies to generate 950MW of clean energy, including a 100MW CSP tower plant, three 200MW parabolic trough (PT) CSP plants and 250MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Spain’s Abengoa is the subcontractor for the project’s PT systems.

Other technology suppliers for the project include:

  • Aalborg (Denmark): steam generation technology for the PT section
  • Brightsource Energy (US): control systems
  • CMI (recently renamed John Cockerill) (Belgium): molten salt receiver for the tower plant
  • Lointek (Spain): integrated steam generation system and oil-salt thermal storage system
  • Rioglass (Belgium): heliostat mirror and solar receivers
  • Siemens (Germany): four steam turbine generators and auxiliary equipment for the PT and tower plants

Shanghai Electric completed the project’s 260-metre-high receiver tower in January last year.

MEED reported that the plan involves bringing the plant online in phases between 2020 and 2022.

Project background

Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) awarded a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and China’s Silk Road Fund the contract to develop a 700MW CSP plant with storage for the fourth phase scheme in November 2017. Since then, the project has been expanded to include a 250MW PV component.

Acwa Power then awarded Shanghai Electric the $3.8bn EPC contract for the hybrid CSP/PV plant in early 2018.

Named Noor Energy 1, the fourth phase of the MBR solar project is one of the world’s most extensive solar thermal installations. It includes a 100MW CSP tower plant, three 200MW PT CSP systems, 250MW of solar PV capacity and 15 hours of molten salt CSP storage capacity.

Financial closure

The project reached financial closure in March 2019. The cost will be met through $2.9bn of debt and $1.5bn of equity.

According to the project structure, Dewa is to provide $750m, or half of the project equity. Project developers Acwa Power and the Silk Road Fund will provide 51 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively, of the remaining equity.

The fourth phase project achieved a tariff of 7.3 $cents a kilowatt hour ($c/kWh) for the CSP component and 2.4$c/kWh for the PV capacity, two of the lowest tariffs for CSP and PV solar technology in the world at the time of award.

Dewa will hold a 51 per cent stake in the project company set up to develop the plant, with Acwa Power and the Silk Road Fund holding the remaining stake. The developer consortium has signed a 35-year power-purchase agreement to supply power to Dubai’s grid.

The project is the second solar installation developed by Acwa Power at the MBR park. In 2017, the Saudi developer commissioned the 200MW second phase PV project. It also won the contract to develop the 900MW fifth phase of the project

Dewa is aiming for the MBR development to produce 5GW of electricity by 2030.

This article is published by MEED, the world’s leading source of business intelligence about the Middle East. MEED provides exclusive news, data and analysis on the Middle East every day. For access to MEED’s Middle East business intelligence, subscribe here.