The Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project in Abu Dhabi, a 2 gigawatt (GW) facility, stands as a testament to the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to sustainable energy. Unveiled by H.H. Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi, this project is the largest single-site solar power plant in the world. Remarkably, it has the capacity to power almost 200,000 homes while eliminating over 2.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
The construction of the plant was a mammoth task, involving the installation of nearly 4 million bi-facial solar panels at a rate of 10 megawatts (MW) per day. These panels, utilizing cutting-edge technology, capture sunlight on both sides to maximize energy yield. The Al Dhafra Solar PV spans over 20 square kilometers in the desert, and its development created 4,500 jobs at the peak of the construction phase.
The project reflects the UAE’s accelerated journey in solar energy development. In under fifteen years, the country has emerged as a global leader in solar energy, ranking second worldwide in per capita solar energy usage. The Al Dhafra Solar PV project, initially achieving the world’s lowest tariff at financial close, symbolizes the UAE’s long-standing commitment to decarbonization.
Key to this achievement was a strategic partnership among global energy leaders, including Masdar, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), EDF Renewables, and JinkoPower, with Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) as the procurer. This collaboration led to one of the most competitive tariffs for solar power, further improved to AED 4.85 fils/kWh (USD 1.32 cents/kWh) at financial close.
This inauguration aligns with the UAE’s broader vision for a sustainable future, as articulated by H.E. Engineer Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Department of Energy in Abu Dhabi. The project not only enhances the UAE’s position in renewable energy but also contributes to sustainable economic and social growth, striking a balance between development and climate change mitigation.
Jasim Husain Thabet, CEO of TAQA, and Othman Al Ali, CEO of EWEC, highlighted the project’s significance in driving the transformation to a cleaner, more sustainable power sector. EWEC’s ambitious plans include commissioning new solar power projects annually, aiming to make Abu Dhabi a hub for large-scale solar plants and advancing towards the UAE’s net-zero goal.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, emphasized the project’s role as a milestone in the UAE’s clean energy journey. Bruno Bensasson of EDF Renewables and Charles Bai of Jinko Power International Business also underscored the collaborative efforts and technological advancements that made this project possible, contributing significantly to Abu Dhabi’s and the world’s renewable energy landscape.