Investments at MBR Solar Park reach $4.4bn in phase four

Fourth phase will make use of concentrated solar power and PV panels to achieve 950 MW of clean energy.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has announced on Sunday, the financial closing of the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park. The fourth phase, called the Noor Energy 1 project, will achieve 950 MW of clean energy and will have the tallest solar tower in the world at 260m.

DEWA is implementing this phase in cooperation with Acwa Power, The Silk Road Fund, and Shanghai Electric as the main contractor. The announcement was made by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, and Mohammad Abdullah Abunayyan, Chairman of Acwa Power, at a press conference that was attended by senior officials from Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE.

Commenting on the achievement, Al Tayer said that the MBR Solar Park supports DEWA’s efforts to increase the share of renewable energy in Dubai and strengthen the UAE’s position as a leading global hub for clean energy and a green economy.

“This phase will provide clean energy for 320,000 residences and will reduce 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually,” he stated. “It [phase four] is also the largest single-site investment project in the world.”

“UAE is directly propagating renewable energy around the world,” observed Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of Acwa Power.

By showing leadership, Padmanathan told MECN, UAE is giving confidence and courage to other countries to do it [produce clean energy]. He added that the UAE as a host of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), offers a lot of support, technical assistance, advice and policy framework to countries around the world in propogating the renewable agenda and decarbonisation.

MBR Solar Park’s phase one, two and three utilised photovoltaic (PV) panels to achieve 13 MW, 200 MW and 800 MW of clean energy respectively. Meanwhile, the fourth phase will use three different technologies- 700 MW from concentrated solar power (CSP), of which 600 MW is from a parabolic basin complex and 100 MW is from a solar tower, and 250 MW from PV panels to produce the same.

“CSP works by taking the heat of the sun, unlike PV panels which makes use of the photons. And then molten salt is used for thermal energy storage, which has a capacity of 15 hours and will allow for energy generation around the clock,” explained Padmanathan.

“This will have a huge impact because for the first time we have real, reliable 24-hour dispatch from renewable energy at a comparatively low cost,” he continued. “We were able to do this before, but it was chronically expensive, but the costs have come down now.”

In terms of per-unit cost, the CSP project has achieved the world’s lowest Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of USD 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h), according to DEWA. Using CSP and PV solar technologies based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, the fourth phase has attracted investments up to $4.4 billion.

Padmanathan said the project is financed by international, regional and Chinese banks. “In the mezzanine debt, we have got Commercial Bank International (CBI) and Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD), and we have also got equity bridge loan, that’s being provided by Emirates NBD (ENBD), CBD and Bank of China.”

Meanwhile, DEWA has issued a Request for Qualification (RFQ) to build and operate the fifth phase of the MBR Solar Park which will have a capacity of 900 MW using only PV panels. It will be commissioned in stages starting from Q2 of 2021, it stated.

“We are on our way to reach 5,000MW by 2030 and achieve the objectives of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. With the announcement of the fifth phase, the total capacity of the MBR Solar Park is at 2863 MW,” Al Tayer added.

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