The largest solar energy projects in the Arab world (the 10 giants)

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  • January 7, 2024
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Written by: Siham Al-Sharif
Arab countries are interested in establishing solar energy plants to generate electricity at this time, in order to diversify energy sources and reduce carbon emissions.

Major countries in the Arab world, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, witnessed the launch of giant projects For solar energy.

Among these giant projects were projects that occupied several positions on the list of the largest solar energy projects in the world in terms of production capacity and volume of investments, such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Complex in Dubai.

In this article, we will learn about the most important giant solar energy projects in the Arab world.

1. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar ParkMohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

Image source: Innovation Center

  • Country: The United Arab Emirates
  • the site: Dubai
  • Investment cost: $13.6 billion
  • Total production capacity: 5000 MW
  • Project state: In progress and construction completed
  • Area: 77 square kilometers

The establishment of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park was a fulfillment of Dubai’s strategy to seek to provide 100% of production capacity through renewable energy by 2050.

Located 50 kilometers south of Dubai, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Park is the largest solar park on a single site.

The project was launched in 2012 and consists of several phases. It will reduce 6.5 million tons of carbon emissions annually when its construction is completed.

The first phase was operated in 2013, and included the installation of more than 152,000 photovoltaic panels with a production capacity of 13 megawatts, producing about 28 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

The second phase was operated in 2017, and included the installation of more than 2.3 million photovoltaic panels with a production capacity of 200 megawatts, supplying electricity to about 50,000 homes.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority was the one that implemented the second phase in cooperation with a coalition of companies led by the Saudi company “Aqua Power” and the Spanish company “TSK”.

The third phase was operated in 2020, and included the installation of more than 3 million photovoltaic panels with a production capacity of 800 MW, supplying electricity to about 240,000 homes.

The consortium led by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) was the implementer of this phase, and used in this phase for the first time a single-axis solar tracking system that increases productivity by up to 30% compared to fixed installations.

As for the fourth phase, construction work is continuing and is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2024. The production capacity of the fourth phase is 950 megawatts to supply about 320,000 homes.

Noor Energy 1 is designing, building and operating the fourth phase, and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority owns 51% of the company, while ACWA Power owns 25% and the Silk Road Fund 24%.

This phase includes concentrated solar energy and photovoltaic technologies, a parabolic reflector system, the highest solar tower in the world (with molten salt technology), and the largest solar energy storage projects in the world for a period of up to 15 hours.

The fifth phase was opened in June 2023. It operates using solar photovoltaic technology with a capacity of 900 MW, and works to supply 270,000 homes.

This phase was implemented by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority in cooperation with the ACWA Power Alliance and the Gulf Investment Corporation.

As for the sixth phase, it will be operated in different phases between the years 2024 and 2026. The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is implementing this phase, and it operates using solar photovoltaic technology with a capacity of 1,800 megawatts.

2. Shuaiba Solar Energy Project

Shuaiba Solar Energy ProjectShuaiba Solar Energy Project

Image source: Aqua Power

  • Country: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • the site: Makkah Region
  • Investment cost: $2.37 billion
  • Total production capacity: 2631 MW
  • Project state: Under construction and operation

This project is located in the Shuaiba Center in the Makkah Al-Mukarramah region, and it is one of the giant solar energy projects in the Kingdom.

Three companies own the project: Badil, with a 34.99% share, ACWA Power, with a 35.01% share, and Aramco, with a 30% share.

The project consists of the Shuaiba 1 station, which has a capacity of 600 MW, and the Shuaiba 2 station, with a capacity of 2031 MW. The project uses monocrystalline, bifacial solar panels.

The commercial operation of the project is divided into several stages, the last of which will be in 2025, and the project will supply 350,000 residential units with electricity.

3. Al Dhafra Solar Power Plant

Al Dhafra Solar Power PlantAl Dhafra Solar Power Plant

Image source: ewec

  • Country: The United Arab Emirates
  • the site: Emirate of Abu Dhabi
  • Total production capacity: 2000 MW
  • Project state: Running
  • Area: 20 square kilometers

The Al Dhafra Solar Power Plant is located 35 kilometers from the city of Abu Dhabi, and the plant was opened in November 2023 before the start of the 28th Climate Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company “Taqa” owns 40% of the project’s share, while the shares of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company “Masdar”, “EDF Renewables” and Ginko Power each have 20%.

The station will supply 200,000 housing units and will contribute to avoiding the release of 2.4 million tons of carbon emissions. It will also contribute to creating 4,500 job opportunities during the construction process.

The station uses 4 million dual crystalline solar panels to absorb sunlight from both the front and rear.

4. Sudair Solar Power Plant

  • Country: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • the site: Riyadh region
  • Investment cost: $920 million
  • Total production capacity: 1500 MW
  • Project state: Under construction and operation

The station is located in Sudair Industrial City, 150 kilometers from the city of Riyadh, and it is considered one of the largest solar energy stations in the world.

This project is being implemented by an alliance between ACWA Power and the Water and Electricity Holding Company “Badil”, owned by the Public Investment Fund.

This project is the first project implemented within the framework of the renewable energy program affiliated with the Public Investment Fund.

Commercial operation of the first phase of the project began in September 2023. The station will supply 185,000 housing units and will contribute to reducing carbon emissions by about 2.9 million tons annually.

5. Al Ajban solar power station

  • Country: The United Arab Emirates
  • the site: Abu Dhabi
  • Total production capacity: 1500 MW
  • Project state: Under development

The station is located in the Al Ajban area in Abu Dhabi. When constructed and operated, the station will supply 160,000 homes and will contribute to reducing 2.4 million tons of carbon emissions.

And she takes over Emirates Water and Electricity Company Responsibility for implementing the project. The project is now in the stage of technical and financial analysis of the offers submitted by companies wishing to develop the project. The developer will have 40% of the project shares, and 60% of the project share will go to the UAE government.

6. Benban Solar Energy Complex

Benban Solar Energy ComplexBenban Solar Energy Complex

Image source: presidency

  • Country: The Egyptian Arabic Republic
  • the site: Aswan Governorate
  • Investment cost: More than $2 billion
  • Production capacity: 1465 MW
  • Project state: Under construction and operation
  • Area: 35.79 square kilometers

Benban Solar Energy Park is The largest solar energy projects in EgyptIt is considered one of the largest solar energy complexes that operate with a photovoltaic system without storage in the world.

The complex is located in front of the village of Benban, 40 kilometers from Aswan Governorate in Upper Egypt. This location was chosen based on extensive scientific studies indicating that it is free of highlands and plains and is one of the brightest areas in the world.

This project is managed by the New and Renewable Energy Authority, and implementation began in 2015. 32 investing companies are participating in this project, including the Spanish Acciona, the Alcazar Energy Company, and the Italian Enerai.

Commercial operation began in April 2018, and the first phase of the complex opened in December 2019.

The volume of electricity production from the complex represents 90% of the High Dam’s electricity, and will contribute to avoiding the release of carbon emissions by about 1.9 million tons annually. The project provides about 10,000 job opportunities.

The complex consists of 32 solar stations, each station has a capacity of 50 megawatts, and the complex uses 200,000 solar panels.

7. Nour Solar Power Plant in Abu Dhabi

Noor solar power plant in Abu DhabiNoor solar power plant in Abu Dhabi

Image source: noorabudhabi

  • Country: The United Arab Emirates
  • the site: Abu Dhabi
  • Investment cost: $871.2 million
  • Total production capacity: 1200 MW
  • Project state: Running
  • Area: 8 square kilometers

The Noor Solar Power Plant is located in the Sweihan area in Abu Dhabi. The company that owns the plant is Sweihan Energy Company, which is also responsible for operating the plant.

The station began operating in April 2019. The station supplies 90,000 housing units and contributes to reducing one million tons of carbon emissions.

The station is distinguished by its unique geometric design that allows it to absorb the largest possible amount of sunlight, by directing half of the solar panels towards the west, and the other half towards the east, at an inclination angle of 5 degrees Celsius.

The station includes 3.2 million monocrystalline photovoltaic solar panels with an efficiency of 20%, 828 electrical transformers, and uses 1,430 automated units to clean the solar panels automatically without the use of water.

8. Al Kharsaa solar power station

  • Country: The State of Qatar
  • the site: Doha
  • Investment cost: $467 million
  • Total production capacity: 800 MW
  • Project state: Running
  • Area: 10 square kilometers

Al Kharsaa station is a step towards achieving Doha’s sustainability strategy, and it is the first photovoltaic station in Qatar.

The station was opened in October 2022, and is located 80 kilometers west of the Qatari capital, Doha, and was established on an area equivalent to 1,400 football fields.

The project site was chosen based on scientific studies in order to achieve the highest operational efficiency, taking into account the geological, environmental and societal impacts.

The construction and operation of the station was undertaken by Siraj 1 Company, a company owned by Siraj Energy 60% and the alliance of Marubeni Corporation of Japan and Total Energies of France 40%.

The plant will contribute to meeting 10% of the maximum consumption in Qatar, and will reduce one million tons of carbon emissions annually.

The station uses more than 1.8 million high-quality, high-efficiency bifacial photovoltaic solar panels installed on single-axis trackers. It also uses robots in the cleaning process of the solar panels, and applies the latest automated systems to track the sun.

9. Nour Ouarzazate solar energy project

  • Country: The Kingdom of Morocco
  • the site: Ouarzazate city
  • Investment cost: 9 billion dollars
  • Total production capacity: 582 MW
  • Project state: Running
  • Area: 21 square kilometers

The Noor Plants Ouarzazate project is a huge solar energy project in the Kingdom of Morocco. The project is located in the city of Ouarzazate, 200 meters from Marrakesh.

The project consists of four solar stations: “Noor 1,” “Noor 2,” “Noor 3,” and “Noor 4.” The first three stations operate with concentrated thermal solar energy technology, while the fourth station operates with solar photovoltaic technology.

“Noor 1” and “Noor 2” stations use cylindrical reflective mirrors, while “Noor 3” uses a concentrated solar energy tower.

Commercial operation of the “Noor 1” station began in 2016, and its production capacity reaches 160 MW. In 2018, commercial operation of the remaining stations began.

The capacity of the “Noor 2” station is 200 megawatts, the capacity of “Noor 3” is 150 megawatts, and “Noor 4” has a production capacity of 72 megawatts.

The project works to provide 1.3 million housing units, and contributes to reducing about 800 thousand tons annually of carbon emissions.

10. Ibri 2 solar power station

Ibri 2 solar power stationIbri 2 solar power station

Image source: Ministry of Energy and Minerals

  • Country: Sultanate of Oman
  • the site: Ibri State in Al Dhahirah Governorate
  • Investment cost: $403 million
  • Total production capacity: 500 MW
  • Project state: Running
  • Area: 13 square kilometers

The establishment of Ibri 2 station came in response to the Sultanate’s orientation towards diversifying energy sources and exploiting renewable energy, and to achieve a balance between the requirements of development and environmental sustainability.

The station was opened in January 2022, and is the largest solar energy station in Oman, and the project was completed in just 13 months.

The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company contracted with a group of companies led by Aqua Power to establish, own and operate the station.

The station supplies 50,000 housing units and contributes to reducing 340,000 tons of carbon emissions.

The station uses about 500,000 bifacial solar panels, more than 7,000 kilometers of cable, and 1,812 robots to clean the solar panels.

Conclusion

These were the largest solar energy mega projects in the Arab world, and more mega projects with high production capacities are scheduled to be built in the future.

Competition is also intensifying between countries in using modern technologies and using the least resources to produce electricity at the cheapest prices.

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