UAE powers on Noor Abu Dhabi, the world's largest solar project

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Noor in Arabic means light, something which the new solar power project in Abu Dhabi will make plentiful use of to brighten up people's homes. As part of the country's initiative towards better energy security, the Noor Abu Dhabi solar power plant will produce approximately 1.2 gigawatts of electricity that can cover the demand of 90,000 people.

The capital's reliance on the use of natural gas for electricity generation will be considerably reduced resulting in a carbon footprint reduction of 1 million metric tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. EWEC also announced that the project broke the record for the world's most competitive tariff at 8.888 fils/kWh, the fils being a subdivision of the dirham currency (like cent is to dollar) which at present equates to about 0.024 usd/kWh or 2.4 cents/kWh.

By contrast, the Solar Star power plant in Rosamond, California, commissioned in 2015 is the United States' biggest solar project spread over an area of 13 km square that uses 1.7 million solar panels to generate 579 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to powering 255,000 homes. The difference in the ratio of power output to equivalent home figures can likely be attributed to the average household power consumption differences between the two countries, among other factors.

The Noor Abu Dhabi plant is a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Government and a consortium of Japan's Marubeni Corp and China's Jinko Solar Holding. "The completion of the project marks a significant milestone in the UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050, launched in 2017, to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix to 50% by 2050 while reducing the carbon footprint of power generation by 70%," said Mohammad Hassan Al Suwaidi, Chairman of EWEC.

"We are very pleased to deliver the world’s largest solar PV independent power project into full commercial operations within budget and on schedule, and we appreciate the leadership of EWEC and the support of our other business partners in this achievement," said Yoshiaki Yokota, Marubeni Corp COO of the Power Business Division, further noting that "this project represents a significant milestone not only for the United Arab Emirates and the region, but for the global solar industry and for the future of renewable energy."

Jinko Solar's CEO, Kangping Chen was also proud of the teamwork effort and achievement. "We are thankful to the government team for creating a world-class tender programme, their high-level of professionalism and their strong support throughout the process," adding that this project "wouldn’t be where it is without the seamless collaboration among our partners and other stakeholders. We are grateful for such wonderful teamwork."

Although the country is still mostly oil dependent, important developments like this would ultimately have a positive impact on global emissions and shows the intent of transitioning towards a sustainable future through renewable energy.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
It sets an excellent example of how to beneficially use so much otherwise useless land, but needless to say the capital expense will be great and I have yet to see any form of research or information of how these units will hold up to those occasional sand storms no only for the surface of the panels but for all the inner workings against such fine dust .....
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
I think it's funny how they throw around all these numbers, but don't take into account the carbon emissions from manufacturing, transport, installation, and on-going maintenance and possible replacement of these solar panels. I wonder how long it takes for them to pay for themselves not just monetarily, but in terms of displacing the carbon footprint just to get to that point.

I would hope that it isn't long... a few years at most and then you truly can be "green". You just have to remember nothing is "free" and I feel a lot of people don't consider this. I wouldn't at all be surprised if some of these green efforts end up being worse for the environment in the end.

Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to hate; I fully support trying to be more green, being less wasteful, and more efficient - but damn I think many people get ahead of themselves in thinking they are making the world a better place with this kind of thing.
 

scavengerspc

TS Booster
And I think its funny no one seems to consider the cost of plant manufacturing. A coal plant of 580 MW costs upward of 2 billion dollars. This plant is nearly double that output for more than half off that price, under 900 million dollars.

It has already paid for itself. And then some.
 
And I think its funny no one seems to consider the cost of plant manufacturing. A coal plant of 580 MW costs upward of 2 billion dollars. This plant is nearly double that output for more than half off that price, under 900 million dollars.

It has already paid for itself. And then some.
Not sure where you got the price for the 580 MW coal plant. However, if in fact it does cost over $2 billion USD to build, that puts it right on par with solar power.

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/The-Worlds-10-Biggest-Solar-Farms.html

Topaz is a 580 MW facility in the US, & it cost $2.5 billion USD to build. That would make it about as expensive to build as a coal power plant...so going solar doesn't appear to save on construction costs. And before someone wonders why the UAE facility was so much cheaper, I'll bet it comes down to 2 major factors: labor costs are much, much cheaper in UAE; & the costs to comply with regulatory commissions (worker safety, public safety, site permits, etc.) are probably lower in UAE.
 

lipe123

TS Evangelist
I find it amazing how every time there is some kind of green energy initiative there are people jumping onto it with stupid comments like "Ugh it makes so much pollution to manufacture these panels, turbines, etc etc that its totally not even worth making them"
You. Are. Wrong. Stop doing it.

Also anytime a solar project goes online the second response is "huuuduurrrr whut you do when its night bruh?! *mouthdrool* "
There is two parts to a solar project, first you generate the power in the middle of nowhere and then SECOND you create substations near cities with giant battery banks. Typically its two seperate companies the compliment each other. One makes the power and the second stores it for later use when there is bad cloud cover or nightfall.
No one is saying entire countries can rely purely on solar, Gas fired plants are always backup because they can be turned on very quickly to supplement any shortfall.

Finally I find it amazing that UAE is doing this when the leaders of some countries like USA are actively fighting against any kind of progress in this area.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
The light reflectance of a place like the beach is a full photographic stop greater than most other areas..

Plus, the land being used is not arable. So the available light favors powering the people, but unfortunately it's no help with feeding them.

In spite of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima Daiichi, I think with more planning, and our current, (hopefully advanced) knowledge of location, design and safety considerations, I think nuclear power generation is still a viable option.

The reason skyscrapers are built, is to maximize interior space and minimize the building's footprint.

Solar panels massively squander available land area.. I'll give you that they can be quite handy, at least if your next door neighbor is the Sahara Desert.
 

TempleOrion

TS Enthusiast
Plus, the land being used is not arable.

Solar panels massively squander available land area.. I'll give you that they can be quite handy, at least if your next door neighbor is the Sahara Desert.
Exactly. The land is *not* arable in the first place and there's no shortage of it in the UAE, Saudi or North African nations. The EU is still investigating using Sahelian countries for solar PV & tower projects that will benefit both the host and receiving partners.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Also anytime a solar project goes online the second response is "huuuduurrrr whut you do when its night bruh?! *mouthdrool* "
There is two parts to a solar project, first you generate the power in the middle of nowhere and then SECOND you create substations near cities with giant battery banks. Typically its two seperate companies the compliment each other. One makes the power and the second stores it for later use when there is bad cloud cover or nightfall.
OK, if, as you suggest a solar installation is "two different companies", then has the cost of transmission and the necessary battery banks been accounted for in the price quotes? Or is that just the price of the panels and framework.?

No one is saying entire countries can rely purely on solar, Gas fired plants are always backup because they can be turned on very quickly to supplement any shortfall.
The thing here is, all of the land used in this project is worthless for any other purpose. There's likely not even a puddle you could use to water your camel.

So the question becomes, "how many people could you feed with the same land area, if it was suitable for farming"

Finally I find it amazing that UAE is doing this when the leaders of some countries like USA are actively fighting against any kind of progress in this area.
I'm a lot more careful what I wish for. With psychopath Trump in office, he's liable to wake up one day, and decide that Yellowstone National Park should be covered in solar panels. (Of course that would only be the sections where he didn't sell the oil and mineral rights to private companies.).
 

scavengerspc

TS Booster
And I think its funny no one seems to consider the cost of plant manufacturing. A coal plant of 580 MW costs upward of 2 billion dollars. This plant is nearly double that output for more than half off that price, under 900 million dollars.

It has already paid for itself. And then some.
Not sure where you got the price for the 580 MW coal plant. However, if in fact it does cost over $2 billion USD to build, that puts it right on par with solar power.

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/The-Worlds-10-Biggest-Solar-Farms.html

Topaz is a 580 MW facility in the US, & it cost $2.5 billion USD to build. That would make it about as expensive to build as a coal power plant...so going solar doesn't appear to save on construction costs. And before someone wonders why the UAE facility was so much cheaper, I'll bet it comes down to 2 major factors: labor costs are much, much cheaper in UAE; & the costs to comply with regulatory commissions (worker safety, public safety, site permits, etc.) are probably lower in UAE.
Oh great here we go. Topaz is a photovoltaic plant, and 2nd, was started in 2011. Solar has gotten much, much cheaper since then.
 

Kytetiger

TS Enthusiast
1177MW/870M$=1352 $/MWp
That's actually more expensive than the average price that I saw somewhere on www.irena.org

I also read that worldwide, the solar production is higher than the necessary electricity to build new pannels.
and that the carbon footprint is around 3 years.