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Abu Dhabi utility tenders 350MW solar plant

The new power plant will produce enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes and will be structured as an independent power project with a power purchase agreement

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Abu Dhabi is committed to producing 7% of its total power from renewable energy sources by 2020
Abu Dhabi is committed to producing 7% of its total power from renewable energy sources by 2020

Abu Dhabi's power utility is building a 350 megawatt (MW) solar plant, its first renewable project and part of a plan to produce seven percent of the emirates' power from renewables by 2020.

The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) is currently seeking bids and is aiming to select a developer by mid-2016

The solar photovoltaic (PV) project to be built in Sweihan, about 120 kilometres east of the capital. The successful developer will own up to 40% of a special-purpose vehicle, with Adwea taking the remaining equity, according to the tender announcement.

Abu Dhabi's green energy company Masdar has launched some renewable energy projects, including solar plants in the emirate, but this will be Adwea's first foray beyond its 11 gas-fired, independent water and power projects (IWPPs).

Although the emirate has 110MW of solar power, thanks to Masdar, this would be the first such project carried out by Adwea.

“Adwea did dip a toe in the solar market by co-investing with Masdar in a 2.3MW PV portfolio in Abu Dhabi in 2011,” Jenny Chase, manager of Solar Insight at Bloomberg New Energy Finance was quoted by local newspaper, The National. “However, the scale-up to 350MW is probably due to low prices being bid in solar tenders around the region.”

“At these prices, building solar seems like a sensible energy diversification strategy and not a painful financial sacrifice.”

Adwea's power plants have sufficient capacity to meet peak summer demand now, but with power needs expected to grow about 15 percent a year to reach some 21,000 MW by 2020, Abu Dhabi needs to build more generation capacity.

Abu Dhabi is committed to producing 7% of its total power from renewable energy sources by 2020, and the Sweihan project will be the first under the initiative.

The Emirate is currently building nuclear power plants, with its first reactor scheduled for commissioning in 2017.

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