PPA sign-off brings progress to ultra-cheap 900MW solar project in Dubai

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A model of the Mohammed Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park. Source: DEWA

Yet another phase of what is described as the largest single-site solar project in the world lies one step closer to completion in Dubai, after the supply deal was signed online.

Saudi developer ACWA Power has penned a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for the 900MW fifth phase of the 5GW Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, contracted by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

Together with supranational financier the Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC), ACWA led the consortium selected by the United Arab Emirates city last November for the project, prevailing over the 60 requests for proposals DEWA had received.

Last year’s solar contract victory came after ACWA and the GIC proposed a tariff of US$0.016953/kWh. The figure – broadly in line with the €14.76/MWh bid seen in Portugal’s solar auction of July 2019 – was a “world record” at the time, DEWA said this week.

The 900MW PV-only fifth tranche will boast bifacial modules and single-axis trackers. The project, jointly owned between DEWA (60%) and the developer consortium (40%), is meant to be commissioned in batches from Q3 2021 onwards, DEWA said.

Middle Eastern solar giants join race for record tariffs

The PPA signing marks progress for the broader Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a scheme to have IPPs deploy 5GW of solar – both the photovoltaic and concentrated variant – by 2030. All in all, the complex is set to require up to AED 50 billion (US$13 billion) in funding.

Capacity across each segment has ballooned with every new stage. The first (13MW) was commissioned in 2013, while the second – a 200MW batch that was also contracted to ACWA – reached the same stage in March 2017.

For their part, the 800MW third stage was assigned to developer EDF, who took it to financial close in June 2017. The 950MW fourth phase, split between a parabolic basin complex (600MW), a solar tower (100MW) and a PV add-on (250MW), was too contracted to an ACWA-led consortium.

After the successive upgrades, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park counts today with an operational 1.013GW of PV-only systems. According to DEWA, a further 1.85GW lies under construction, featuring both PV and concentrated solar installations.

The talk of US$0.016953/kWh as a record tariff for global solar comes after a project in neighbouring Abu Dhabi made a similar claim. The 2GW Al Dhafra project, reportedly awarded to EDF and JinkoSolar, was contracted after the duo tabled joint bids of US$0.0135/kWh.

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