First Solar, a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, has successfully completed and handed over a 13 megawatt (MWDC) photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Dubai.
The facility, the company’s first utility-scale project in the Middle East, is the largest operating solar PV plant in the region.
First Solar – selected by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority for its engineering, procurement and construction services, as well as advanced thin-film modules – successfully connected the plant to the emirate’s electricity grid 195 days after breaking ground in March, said a company statement.
The project had a workforce of 1,280 personnel at its peak and required more than 1.4 million man-hours to complete, all of which were accident-free, it stated.
Powered by 152,880 First Solar FS Series 3 Black PV modules, the plant will generate 24 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. The power generated by the plant will displace 15,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to removing about 2,000 cars from the road every year.
"This plant represents an important step in the implementation of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to diversify the emirate’s energy mix. For the first time, we are harnessing the sun to power growth and prosperity in the emirate, which is a significant achievement,” remarked Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the vice chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.
“Through this flagship project, First Solar has been able to demonstrate many of the attributes, such as reliability, affordability, scalability and speed of deployment, that make solar power such an attractive proposition,” he noted.
The 13MW solar PV power plant is the first phase of the landmark Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, named after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Park is expected to eventually cover 40 sq km and produce 1,000MW of clean energy for the national grid using both PV and solar thermal technology.
Commenting on the achievement, First Solar CEO Jim Hughes said: “Today marks the realization of a vision that places the UAE at the forefront of the region’s efforts to pursue and promote the development of renewable energy. We are proud to have been part of this initiative to demonstrate that solar PV, with its price and operational efficiencies, is the right fit for the Middle East’s energy generation needs.”
"While we join Dubai in celebrating its latest accomplishment, it is important to take note of the project’s broader significance: in addition to showcasing the effectiveness of our advanced thin-film modules in hot climates, it has established a benchmark for the development of solar energy projects in the region," he stated.
The plant covers an area – 59 acres or 238,764 sq m – that is sufficient to accommodate approximately 33 soccer pitches and is designed to operate for over 25 years.
Significantly, First Solar completed the plant on schedule and spent as much as 50 per cent of the facility’s cost in the UAE, sourcing components such as racks, transformers, cables and switchgears from local suppliers.