Where is the world’s largest solar plant?
If you think that the country with the biggest oil reserves would have no need to worry about renewable energy sources, think again. Abu Dhabi has inaugurated the world’s largest solar power plant — the massive Shams 1.
The project, a co-operative venture between energy investor Masdar, French oil firm Total, Abengoa Solar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has resulted in a 100 Megawatt plant, powernig over 20,000 homes.
Shams, named after the Arabic word for ‘Sun’ is a 2.5 square kilometre facility, and employing 258,048 photovoltaic cells, is a 2.5 square kilometre facility – that’s the size of 285 football fields! When running in full capacity, it will be able to displace 175,000 tons of CO2 a year.
“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in the Middle East,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar in a statement.
“Just like the rest of the word, the region is faced with meeting its rising demand for energy, while also working to reduce its carbon footprint. Shams 1 is a significant milestone, as large-scale renewable energy is proving it can deliver electricity that is sustainable, affordable and secure.”
The plant which took three years and $600 million to build, consists of cells that operate by concentrating the sun’s rays on to oil-filled pipes, producing steam that will drive a turbine, and eventually generate electricity.
“The Middle-East holds nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential,” said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar.
“The abundance of solar energy is an opportunity to integrate sustainable, clean sources of power that address energy security and climate change. The region needs more projects like Shams 1, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of future energy.” Similar projects are already under construction in other parts of the world including California and Spain, and have also been suggested for the Sahara, which could be turned into a major power station if solar energy is effectively harnessed.