Masdar, which is being promoted by the government-owned Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, was set up last April to promote sustainable energy in the emirate. By developing clean energy projects, Masdar aims to extend the life of Abu Dhabi’s vast hydrocarbons reserves, expand the emirate’s position in the global energy market and relieve some of the demand on precious gas supplies.

The solar plant, which is to be implemented by Masdar in partnership with Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA), will have capacity of about 100 MW. Depending on which of three possible sites is selected, it will either be a standalone solar power plant or one which will also include desalination facilities.

Germany’s Fichtner has been appointed technical consultant for the plant, while German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is the solar survey consultant. A decision has still to be taken on whether the project, due to be commissioned in late 2009, will be developed with the private sector, as is now the case on all ADWEA generation schemes.

A far larger power generation project, based on hydrogen, is also being studied by Masdar, ADWEA, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and international partners, including the UK’s BP. Smaller versions of the plant, using the same technology, are already under development in Scotland and California. They use natural gas which is split into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen is used for power generation, while the carbon dioxide is used for enhanced oil recovery on oil fields. The Abu Dhabi project is set to be completed in late 2011.