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Middle East and North Africa Concentrating Solar Power
Knowledge and Innovation Program

DEWA CSP 700 MWe project: What we know so far

On September 16th, DEWA unveiled what is arguably the most ambitious Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project yet, a 700 MWe Parabolic Trough and Tower plant with thermal storage, capable of delivering clean energy 24/7. This article will show you five reasons why this project could be a turning-point for CSP.

1. The DEWA 700 CSP project will deliver clean electricity for $7.3 cents per kWh, much lower than any other CSP project

The consortium led by ACWA outdid its original bid by presenting DEWA with this alternative design, which provides CSP electricity at one of the lowest prices ever.

2. This project could set a trend for even lower CSP bids in the MENA region

One of the main factors impinging on the cost-effectiveness of CSP is direct normal irradiation (DNI). There are many countries in MENA with a better DNI than the UAE, which means that we might soon see even lower bids for CSP projects across the region.

Location Direct Normal Irradiation (DNI) kWh/m2 per year
Madinat Zayed, UAE 1,883
Hassi R’mel, Algeria 2,174
Kuraymat, Egypt 2,431
Ouarzazate, Morocco 2,464
Amman, Jordan 2,587
Ma’an, Jordan 2,798

 

Table 1 Solar resources in various locations across

the MENA region (Sources: Global Solar Atlas)

 

A recent single-digit CSP power purchase agreement (PPA) in Australia illustrates how high solar resources could help lower the cost of CSP. Australia’s DNI is among the highest in the world, in certain areas surpassing 3,000 kWh/m2 per year (Global Solar Atlas).

Having said this, solar resources are only part of the puzzle. Favorable financing terms and a stable regulatory environment, among other factors, also play a key role in determining the cost of CSP.

Concessional financing, available to MENA countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia could contribute to lower CSP costs (Learn more about concessional financing in this article).

3. This project will be able to deliver clean power 24/7

The DEWA 700 CSP project will be built to deliver clean, fully dispatchable power thanks to thermal energy storage, enabling the plant operator to dispatch after sunset and during cloudy or hazy periods.

In fact, the DEWA 700 CSP project is meant to deliver electricity from 4 pm to 10 am, complementing the daytime solar electricity from DEWA’s PV systems. The plant will generate energy during the day but rather than injecting it into the grid as it is produced, it will store it as heat in the molten salt tank system, where it will stay ready to be converted into electricity to supply demand at short-notice. You can read more about CSP dispatchability here.

4. It will enable Dubai to increase its overall share of renewables in the energy mix by doing jobs previously reserved for fossil fuel plants

By supplying clean energy to meet night-time demand, the DEWA 700 CSP project will displace some fossil fuel generation at a time where few other renewable sources could reliably step in. PV, for example, is a variable renewable technology that only produces electricity when the sun is shining. This electricity could be stored in batteries but storing large amounts of CSP energy as heat in molten salt tanks is cheaper than bulk storing PV or Wind electricity in batteries. This is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, according to this report by NREL.

 

The deployment of the DEWA 700 CSP project between 4 pm and 10 am, means that the operator can make the most of PV during the day and then switch to CSP with TES to supply demand after sunset. Typically, night-time energy supply was the preserve of fossil fuels but CSP with TES offers a renewable alternative.

 

The DEWA 700 CSP project is part of Dubai’s plans to increase its share of renewable power generation to 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050.

5. Once built, it will be the largest CSP plant in the world at 700 MWe

The largest operational CSP plant in the World is Ivanpah (USA). This project is made up of three towers, which combined reach 392 MWe.

Ivanpah will yield its title as the largest CSP plant in the world once phases 2 and 3 of the Noor Ouarzazate solar complex enter into operation towards the end of 2017.

The DEWA 700 CSP plant will dwarf both these plants when it comes into full operation. The first stage of this project is scheduled to come into operation in the last quarter of 2020.

If you are interested in learning more about the largest CSP projects in the world, you should read our article on CSP Mega Projects

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DEWA CSP 700: Facts and Figures

Location: Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park, Dubai

Technology: Parabolic Trough with 11 hours of thermal storage and Tower with 15 hours of thermal storage

Capacity: 700 MWe

CAPEX: AED 14.2 billion ($ 3.9 billion)

Developed by ACWA Power and Shanghai Electric

PPA: $7.3 cents per kWh

Expected Commercial Operation Date for phase 1: Q4 2020

Gas back up: No

Type of cooling: Dry

Dispatch time: from 4 pm to 10 am

Other interesting facts:

ACWA has committed $750 million in equity investment in this project.

Operated under an Independent Power Producer (IPP) model.

The CSP tower, at 260 meters, will be the tallest in the world.

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