The Shams 1 solar power plant, developed by Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, has already produced 210 gigawatt hours of electricity, enough to supply 20,000 homes in the UAE capital.

This fulfilled the facility’s production targets for 2014 by mid-November.

The 100MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant has been in operation for a year. Commercial production began in September and the project was handed over to the operation and management team in January 2014.

“This proves large-scale solar projects in the middle of the desert are doable despite the harsh environment,” said Abdulaziz Alobaidli, plant managing engineer at Shams Power Company, speaking at MEED’s Abu Dhabi Energy, Industry & Infrastructure Conference in Abu Dhabi on 8 December.

“We’ve had promising results. This is a model for future large-scale renewables plants in the UAE and Mena [Middle East and North Africa] region. It was the first in the region and the first in the middle of a desert.”

To deal with challenging environmental conditions, such as dust and sandstorms, designs were adapted to maintain production and reduce cleaning costs for the plant’s 258,000 mirror facets.