• Dubai Electricity & Water Authority invites consultants to bid for advisory services contract for solar scheme
  • If completed, 800MW photovoltaic (PV) project would be the world’s largest single-phase solar scheme
  • Project is part of Dubai’s ambitious 2,600MW solar energy target by 2030

The Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has invited firms to submit bids for an advisory services contract for the 800MW third phase of its Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum solar park in Dubai.

Like the first two phases, the 800MW third phase will use photovoltaic (PV) solar technology. The third phase will be developed as an independent power project (IPP). If developed as planned in one stage, it will be the largest single-phase solar scheme in the world.

Companies have until 3 May to submit proposals for the advisory contract. According to sources close to the project, Dewa is expected to issue tenders in July-August this year.  

The ambitious size of the third phase is in line with Dewa’s announcement in February that it was planning increase the proposed capacity of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum solar park to 2,600MW by 2030, from the previous target of 1,000MW. The decision to increase its solar energy targets followed the success of the state utility’s first IPP for the second phase of the solar scheme, under which a world-record low bid was received to develop the project.

The second phase had been originally tendered as a 100MW IPP, but due to the competitive price submitted by the lowest bidder, Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power, Dewa decided to double the capacity and develop a 200MW project. Acwa Power submitted the record-low tariff price of 5.98 cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) in November, and was selected as preferred bidder in January for the 200MW project on an alternative Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) bid of 5.85 cents a kWh.

On 29 March, Dewa signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Acwa Power for the 200MW second phase. Spain’s TSK is also participating in the consortium, and the US’ First Solar will provide solar panels. For the second phase of the solar park, Dewa appointed Netherland’s KPMG as financial adviser and the UK’s London Norton Rose Fulbright as legal adviser in March 2014.

Banks are expected to finance most of the project, which will cost an estimated AED1.2bn ($327m) to build. Dewa has a 51 per cent equity stake in the project and the developer will take 49 per cent.

The increased planned capacity for the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum solar park will account for the vast majority of the new 15 per cent renewables target by 2030, which was revealed by Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer, Dewa’s CEO, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January.

The ambitious size of Dubai’s new solar plans will offer a degree of consolation to the international renewables sector, which has been left disappointed with progress of some of the region’s largest planned solar programmes.

MEED recently reported that Saudi Arabia would likely downsize its proposed renewables programme, the vast majority of which was solar, which had set an ambitious target of developing 54GW of energy by 2032.

In February 2013, the King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA-Care), the body set up by the government in 2010 to oversee the kingdom’s renewables and nuclear programme, released a white paper detailing the first phase of its ambitious renewables programme, which was set to produce 23.9GW of renewable energy by 2020. However, since the publication of the roadmap, no further progress has been made, and according to sources in Riyadh, the government is downsizing its alternative energy goals.

The solar sector has also been left disappointed by Jordan’s renewables programme, which after a strong start has fallen behind schedule with the cancellation of the third round of its renewables programme and delays with the second stage.

However, while Saudi Arabia and Jordan may have faltered, other renewable energy markets have come to the fore. In January, Acwa Power was awarded a contract to develop the estimated $2bn Noor 2 and Noor 3 solar projects in Morocco and in the same month Egypt’s Electricity Ministry prequalified 68 companies to submit proposals for prospective PV solar projects and wind farm developments.

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