Masdar to add 1.2GW to Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in sixth phase

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the UAE. Credit: DEWA

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has selected UAE state-owned renewable power company Masdar as its “preferred bidder” to build and operate the sixth phase of the mammoth Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The project is already the largest single-site solar farm in the world by capacity. The fifth phase of the project came online earlier this year, bringing its total capacity up to 2.4GW, and the authority plans to add a further 1.2GW of capacity in the upcoming sixth phase of construction.

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“DEWA is committed to completing the phases of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park according to the highest international standards using the latest solar power technologies to enhance the shift towards a green sustainable economy by increasing the share of clean and renewable energy,” said Saeed Mohammed Ahmad Al Tayer, vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.

“The share of clean energy in Dubai’s energy mix is about 16.3% of its total installed capacity,” added Al Tayer. “This percentage will reach 24% in 2026 with the completion of the sixth phase and the remaining phases under construction of the solar park.”

While continued work at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will help the UAE shift its energy mix towards renewables, it remains a country heavily reliant on fossil fuels. According to the Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the UAE consumed 698.48TWh of energy from natural gas and 607.25TWh of energy from oil in 2022, with renewables accounting for less than 19TWh.

The majority of the renewable mix is derived from solar, however, with 18.13TWh coming from solar, compared to less than 0.01TWh from wind, and the state’s commitment to solar power has encouraged continued investment in its flagship solar project.

DEWA noted that 23 “international applicants” had applied for permission to develop the project, and expects the Masdar bid to deliver the lowest levelised cost of energy among DEWA’s solar portfolio, of US$0.016/kWh. Keeping costs down at the project will be critical considering the expenses associated with building a solar project of this scale, with DEWA expecting Masdar to invest around US$1.5 billion (AED5.51 billion) into the project.

However, questions remain as to whether the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park’s generation capacity can meet the lofty targets that have been set for it. In June this year, the commissioning of the fifth phase of the project was reported to have increased its total capacity to 2.8GW, but this week, Al Tayer noted that the project’s total capacity is 2.4GW.

Similarly, when DEWA first began accepting bids for the sixth round of development in November 2022, it expected the sixth phase to add 1.8GW of capacity. However, the Masdar bid will see just 1.2GW of capacity added to the project; these are still considerable figures, but remain a shade smaller than the initial plans for the project.

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