Dubai sets fast-track schedule for solar power plant study

04 July 2008
Dubai is to award the feasibility study for its first solar power plant by October in a bid to fast-track renewable energy resources. However, contractors fear its timetable is too tight.

It is the second of the seven emirates in the UAE to embark on a solar power scheme, following Abu Dhabi’s Shams scheme announced in February 2007.

Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) issued a tender for engineering consultancy services on a feasibility study for the project in mid-June. Consultants have until 21 July to submit bids.

Dewa expects the winning consultant to complete the feasibility study within 14 weeks from the date of the contract award. But industry observers say studies of this type normally take up to six months to complete.

The successful bidder will gather solar information, identify potential sites, recommend capacity and analyse technologies. The study will also include investment analysis and the conceptual design of the plant.

One potential bidder says Dewa’s schedule is too demanding. “It wants us to provide everything tomorrow and build the plant the day after,” he says. “The biggest problem when starting such a study is that you need to have a site visit and you need to negotiate with the grid provider, and that takes two months.”

Two German companies, Fichtner Solar and Lahmeyer International, are understood to be considering submitting offers.

The solar scheme is a response to the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Green Building directive. The directive came into effect in January, making environmentally-friendly building standards compulsory in the emirate.

However, it is unlikely that the scheme will significantly alleviate Dubai’s need for power. Dewa aims to increase its power generation capacity from 5,448MW to 21,907MW by 2017.

Solar schemes tend to be relatively small. The world’s largest solar power plant by capacity will be the 100MW Shams 1 being planned for Abu Dhabi.

It’s a very safe way of producing power but it will not be contributing significantly to our generation,” says a source at Dewa.

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