Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is considering plans to develop its planned Noor 1 photovoltaic solar plant as an independent power project (IPP).

“Noor 1 will be an IPP like Shams 1, because the IPP model is very effective for these projects,” says Mohamed al-Zaabi, general manager of Shams Power Company.

However, Masdar Power director Frank Wouters, says that the matter is yet to be decided and that approval from Abu Dhabi government’s Executive Council for the 100MW project is pending.

“We’re in the early stage of defining the project,” says Wouters. “We have not obtained approval yet, so we will go through a procedure like we do with any other project. We have to define the project, know what the costs are and then obtain approval. That will take the rest of this year to arrive at a better stage so we can be a little more firm on this project.”

Masdar issued a request for qualification for the project as an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) earlier this year with a deadline of mid-March (MEED 11:3:11). According to Yousif al-Ali, Noor project manager at Masdar Power, the contract to build the project will be awarded by the end of 2011.

Germany’s Lahmeyer International is the project’s technical adviser. Masdar is using in-house legal and financial advisers, but it expected to select an external legal adviser at a later stage.

The solar project will be located to the east of Al-Ain city in an area called Al-Aflaj area. Construction is to start in 2012 and the expected completion date is the third quarter of 2013.

When asked why the emirate’s third large solar project will use photovoltaic as opposed to concentrated solar power technology (CSP) technology, Masdar associate director Franck Wouters says, “Prices have dropped so much in the past two years [for photovoltaic solar units]. It makes sense to use photovoltaic solar for the Noor 1 project.”

Masdar already has a 10MW photovoltaic solar facility in operation. The project, which covers 22 hectares, comprises 5MW of crystalline technology and 5MW of thin film units. It entered operation in April 2009 and is grid-connected.

Following the completion of the first project, Masdar launched a 100MW scheme, Shams 1, which will use CSP. Spain’s Abengoa and France’s Total were selected to build the project in June 2010. The Shams 1 project reached financial close on 3 March.