Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a giant single site solar park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is set to become even bigger courtesy of a new 700-megawatt solar extension. A contract to build the extension was awarded over the weekend. The additional construction will give the park the ability to generate 5,000 megawatts by 2030 after construction is completed. Following the construction, the solar park will cover around 83 square miles, and be capable of reducing carbon emissions by 6.5 million tons per year. At the center of the facility will stand an enormous 260-meter (853-foot) solar tower, the tallest in the world.
The bid for developing the project’s fourth phase was awarded to a consortium consisting of Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and China’s Shanghai Electric. “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide, and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), in a statement. “This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.”
The solar park first became operational in 2013, with a meager 13-megawatt solar first phase. Earlier this year, the second 200-megawatt phase became operational, while a third 800-megawatt phase will start operations by 2020, when the newly announced fourth phase will begin construction. The facility generates its solar power using a number of lenses and reflectors which concentrate the sun’s rays to heat fluid, which produce steam and drive a turbine: An approach which is more flexible than regular photovoltaic solar plants.
While there are some other impressive solar projects around the world (look no further than the 40-megawatt world’s largest floating solar power plant which just went online in China), the Dubai effort stands alone. When the 700-megawatt phase is completed, Dubai will cement its status as being home to the world’s largest single-site solar park. It will also greatly contribute to the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s total power output to 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030, and 75 percent by 2050.