First Solar wins $200m contract for second phase of Dubai solar park

More than 2.3 million solar panels will be installed at a Dubai plant with enough capacity to power up to 30,000 homes, said First Solar, after the United States firm announced yesterday that it had won the contract to supply the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The solar photovoltaic (PV) park’s operators, the Saudi Arabian firm Acwa Power and Spanish partner TSK, awarded panel manufacturer First Solar an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 200-megawatt phase, believed to be worth more than US$200 million.

The plant, to be built over an area of almost 4.5 million square metres, will begin operations in two years.

January’s winning bid by Acwa and TSK offered the world’s lowest rates for solar PV electricity at 5.84 US cents per kilowatt hour under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Previous lows were at 8 cents per kWh in Brazil and 9 cents per kWh in India.

“This project’s effect on the global energy transition cannot be overstated,” said Ahmed Nada, First Solar vice president and regional executive for the Middle East. “It has effectively driven down the cost of solar electricity, marking a new milestone in solar PV’s evolution as a mainstream energy resource.”

In 2013, First Solar delivered the Dubai park’s 13MW first phase including the installation of more than 150,000 PV panels. First Solar will also provide panels for the Shams Ma’an plant under construction in Jordan and scheduled for completion in the second half of next year.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum project, owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), will provide over 3,000MW of power upon completion, up from its original amount of 1000MW, scheduled for 2030.

The consultancy consortia for the upcoming third phase of the project is expected to be awarded in the next few weeks. The winner will then assess if Dewa should award all of the remaining 800MW for the park in one single phase or break it up into sections. A request for bids from companies for the construction of the third phase is expected by the end of the year, according to Dewa.

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