Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has invited expressions of interest to build a 10MW solar power project in the emirate. Contractors have until 15 April to respond.

At a cost of about AED120m ($33m), the project will be financed by six government bodies headed by the Supreme Council of Energy. It will be built on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis. The power plant will be connected to Dewa’s grid and is scheduled for commissioning in the third quarter of 2013.

The photovoltaic solar project will be Dubai’s largest solar power scheme, eclipsing the combined capacity of all other solar projects in the emirate. Dubai currently has about 4.5MW of installed solar power capacity. The largest project is at Meydan and has a capacity of 750kW. Other projects are at Jebel Ali and the Palm Jumeirah.

Dubai intends to expand its solar power capacity extensively through the development of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park, a 1,000MW multi-technology project, of which the new 10MW will be the first part.The project will be located near the E66 Dubai to Al-Ain road, about 50 kilometres outside Dubai city.

In February, Dewa selected Austria’s ILF Consulting Engineers to advise on the development of the 10MW project, as well as the planning for the solar park. The park will cover 48 square kilometres at Seih al-Dahal, located southeast of Dubai city. A collection of facilities using photovoltaic, concentrated solar power (CSP) trough and solar power tower technology will feature at the site.

According to Dewa, the solar park will require a total investment of about AED12.6bn ($3.5bn), although the project is likely to cost more. While the first phase will be government procured, subsequent projects could be financed by the private sector. This could take the form of independent power projects (IPPs) in a similar structure already employed for traditional power plants.

Dewa has also said it intends to establish a clean energy fund, which will be a vehicle for private-sector finance for new renewable energy projects, including projects in the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park.

When asked whether the projects would be developed as IPPs, Dewa says a decision has not yet been made and that “consultants are studying the whole plan”.

In addition to the solar park, Dewa is also planning smaller projects, starting with its own buildings. It has invited bids for the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a photovoltaic solar power facility on its buildings at Al-Quoz and Al-Warsan.