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World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant Online in UAE

A 100 MW concentrated solar power plant went online in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, deploying 258,000 mirrors, mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors, to concentrate the heat from the sun into electricity. The plant, named Shams 1, is now the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world.

The grid-connected solar plant, located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, can generate enough renewable energy to power 20,000 homes, and is another example of the recent tendency in the traditionally oil-rich regions to diversify into alternative and renewable energy sources.

“Shams 1 is a strategic investment in our country’s economic, social and environmental prosperity. The domestic production of renewable energy extends the life of our country’s valuable hydrocarbon resources and supports the growth of a promising new industry.” – Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE

The Shams 1 installation covers a 2.5 square kilometer area, and focuses the combined heat from the sunlight hitting the mirrors onto oil-filled pipes, which produces steam for turning a turbine and generating electricity. Shams 1 also integrates a ‘booster heater’ to further heat the steam as it enters the turbine, which boosts the efficiency of the project, and features a ‘dry-cooling’ system that requires significantly less water than a similar type of installation would.

Designed and built by Shams Power Company, the project cost about $600 million USD, and took three years to complete. Shams 1 is owned by Masdar, Total, and Abengoa Solar.

Not only does the new solar plant boost renewable energy capacity in the region, but is also expected to displace up to 175,000 tons of CO2 every year, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 15,000 cars off the road or planting 1.5 million trees.

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