Shams 1, the largest single concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world, is now in operation in Abu Dhabi. There are several larger concentrated solar facilities with greater capacity–notably the 354 MW Solar Energy Generating Systems operation in the Mojave Desert, but all of them use multiple units when calculating their total capacity figures.
Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, partnered with French energy company Total and Spain’s energy infrastructure company Abengoa. The 100-megawatt solar-thermal project will power thousands of homes in the United Arab Emirates and displace approximately 175,000 tons of CO₂ per year. The US $600 million project took three years to build.
Located in the UAE’s Western Region, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, 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 nearly 10 percent of the world’s installed CSP capacity.
Shams 1 is an example of how collaboration between companies can achieve large-scale, clean-energy solutions that help meet the world’s growing energy demands.
Covering an area of 2.5 km², or 285 football fields, Shams 1 generates electricity to power 20,000 homes in the UAE. Also, because solar power is generated during peak demand, the UAE is able to reduce the need for “peak shaving” generators, which are expensive and idle most of the year.
“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.”
Incorporating the latest in parabolic trough technology, Shams 1 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. In addition, the solar project uses a booster to heat steam as it enters the turbine to dramatically increase the cycle’s efficiency. The project also includes a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption – a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi.
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Solar Energy | March 20, 2013