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Powering the future

by Baset Asaba on Jul 31, 2017

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Until a few years ago, Seih Al Dahal was just another stretch of the harsh desert sands on the periphery of a sprawling city. But today, a revolution in the GCC power sector is taking shape right at the heart of this expanse located at Dubai-Al Ain road.

It is at Seih Al Dahal that for the first time in the GCC, electric power will be generated from a solar plant even after sunset, at the lowest cost ever recorded for concentrated solar plant (CSP) power generation.

“We have embarked on this journey that will change the energy landscape of Dubai,” says H E Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA). “When you want to guarantee stable and sustainable power supply for people, you have to place no limits on innovation and large scale investment.”

Indeed, DEWA has been leading the way over the last decade by channeling additional resources geared towards a robust power and water network in Dubai, while at the same time coming up with ingenious ways to boost overall customer experience.

The CSP plant to be built at Seih Al Dahal by DEWA is the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The CSP plant is due to be operational by 2021.

The solar park uses a mixture of CSP and photovoltaic technology. Unlike photovoltaic panels that generate power directly from the sun, CSP plants use mirrors to concentrate heat on molten salt, whose heat powers a steam turbine. The molten salt remains hot enough to continue generating power even after the sun has set.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is the largest single-site strategic solar energy project in the world, based on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model. The 13MW first phase of the park became operational in 2013.

The 200MW second phase of the solar park became operational in March 2017. In June 2016, DEWA announced that the Masdar-led consortium was the selected bidder for the 800MW third phase of the solar park, to be completed by 2020, based on the IPP model, after getting a Levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of USD 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

The total capacity of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will be 1,013MW by 2020, and 5,000MW by 2030, with total investments of $13.6bn. This project is another milestone for Dubai.

Al Tayer has been leading DEWA since 1991. Ever since, he has taken DEWA to a whole new level of international competiveness, positioning DEWA as an example to follow. "DEWA is now one of the best utilities in the world. This is thanks to the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the limitless dedication of DEWA employees."

The solar park is a vital project for DEWA as it is one of the key contributors to the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to expand the share of clean energy in Dubai to 7% by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.

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