Masdar considers building solar power tower in Abu Dhabi

02 May 2011

Abu Dhabi project would be three to four times larger than world’s biggest solar power tower

Torresol shareholders

Sener: 69 per cent

Mubadala Development Company: 40 per cent

Source: MEED

Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) is considering building the region’s first solar power tower in Abu Dhabi. Masdar Power is in discussions with Spanish developer Torresol to build the thermal solar power project in the emirate.

Masdar is a 40 per cent shareholder in Torresol alongside 60 per cent stakeholder, Spain’s Sener. Torresol completed construction of the world’s first commercial-scale solar power tower, Gemasolar, in Spain earlier this month.

Gemasolar has a rated capacity of 50MW, but Torresol intends to operate the project at 17MW for 24-hours per day. Energy generated above 17MW will be stored and released when generation goes below 17MW. In doing so, the project’s designers say the scheme will be able to produce constant power, even at night time.

As Torresol’s first solar power tower project, the company will monitor power generation from the facility for seven months. After this monitoring period, the firm intends to use the data gathered to plan the similar solar power tower in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi project is likely to be significantly larger than Gemasolar. While the project in Spain is targeting 17MW continuous power, the Abu Dhabi project is set to be three or four times larger at 50-70MW continuous power.

As a result, the footprint of the Abu Dhabi project is likely to be 400-600 hectares. The Gemasolar project covers about 200 hectares.

The Spanish project was project financed on an 85:15 debt equity basis, with Spanish banks providing the debt.

The Gemasolar project was supported by a generous feed-in tariff for renewable energy from the Spanish government. The UAE does not have a feed-in tariff and a preferential tariff for the power will need to be negotiated for the Abu Dhabi solar project. A similar agreement was signed for Masdar’s recently financed Shams 1 project, also in Abu Dhabi.

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