The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has opened its Shams 1 solar power plant in Abu Dhabi, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) under operation in the world.

The 100MW grid-connected power plant will generate clean energy that will power 20,000 homes in the UAE. The Shams 1 plant was officially inaugurated by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, on 17 March.

The Shams 1 project covers a total area of 2.5 square kilometres and contains more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors.  The solar system concentrates heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, which enables the Shams 1 plant to produce steam. The steam drives a turbine and generates electricity.

The solar project is expected to reduce the UAE’s carbon emissions by about 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year.

The renewable power plant is being developed under a 25-year build-own-operate (BOO) contract, with a construction cost of about $600m.

The plant has been developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture of Masdar, which has a 60 per cent stake in the project, Spain’s Abengoa Solar and France’s Total, which both have 20 per cent stakes.