The 2GW Al Dhafra solar project is a photovoltaic power plant, which will be located in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Credit: Masdar.
Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) will buy the electricity from the plant for 30 years. Credit: Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC).
The 1.17GW Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant is the world’s largest operational single-project solar power plant. Credit: Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC).

Al Dhafra solar project is a 2GW photovoltaic (PV) independent power producer (IPP) project, which will be located in Al Dhafra region, approximately 35km south of Abu Dhabi City in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The project is being developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme and is 60%-owned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) and Masdar, the two Abu Dhabi-based government-owned electricity companies. The remaining 40% share is owned by EDF Renewables, a French electricity company, and Chinese company Jinko Power.

The consortium of TAQA, Masdar, EDF and Jinko Power signed a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) to sell electricity generated by the plant in July 2020.

The construction of the power project is expected to begin in late 2020, while the commissioning of the plant is expected in 2022. The project will provide electricity to approximately 1,60,000 houses in the UAE. The construction phase is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs.

Once fully operational, the plant will reduce carbon emissions by more than 2.4 million tonnes a year. The reduction in emissions will be equivalent to taking approximately 470,000 cars off the road.

The solar power project is in line with the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050.

Al Dhafra solar project details

Al Dhafra solar project will be constructed in an area of approximately 20km².

“Once fully operational, the plant will reduce carbon emissions by more than 2.4 million tonnes a year.”

It will be installed with the latest solar PV modules based on crystalline, bifacial module technology. The solar modules will capture sunlight from both sides for better yield. The project has a low solar PV energy tariff of AED 4.97fils/kWh ($1.35 cents/kWh) based on a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) basis.

Other infrastructure, including inverters, connection to the transmission network and related facilities, will also be established.

There is an additional option to build on the existing battery capacity of 108MW, which is operational in the current electricity storage system of Abu Dhabi.

Bifacial solar modules details

The Jinko Solar’s bifacial solar modules broke the world record for the conversion efficiency of bifacial solar modules, achieving 22.49% efficiency in January 2020.

Equipped with transparent back sheet technology, the bifacial module has the capacity of 1.5kW per array with a fixed tilt angle of 30°.

The highly efficient cell design of the modules features ARC, advanced metallisation technologies, along with the company’s proprietary technologies. The new tiling ribbon (TR) technology was integrated into the cell design to eliminate any inter-cell gap. It improves the efficiency and reliability of the module while enhancing its appearance. The high-efficiency modules also reduce the LCOE, facilitating grid parity.

Solar power plants in Abu Dhabi

The 100MW Shams 1 located in Abu Dhabi was the first solar company in the Middle East when it was launched in March 2013. It is a concentrated solar plant with 768 parabolic trough collectors, covering an area of 2.5km² and providing electricity to more than 20,000 households in the UAE.

Launched in April 2019, the 1.17GW Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant (previously known as Sweihan solar photovoltaic power plant) is one of the world’s biggest solar power plants, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.

The Noor Abu Dhabi power plant is equipped with 3.2 million solar panels across an area of 8km² and meets the electricity requirements of 90,000 UAE households.

The Al Dhafra solar project will increase the solar power capacity of Abu Dhabi to approximately 3.2GW.