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4 of the biggest renewable energy projects in the Middle East



The oil and gas industry has long dominated the Middle East, with the economies and infrastructure of places likes like Dubai and Saudi Arabia growing massively thanks to foreign exports. But as countries across the region plan for a carbon-neutral future, bolstered by the fluctuations in the oil price, renewable energy is being taken more seriously. 

According to the business intelligence tool MEED, $150 billion (US) is being invested on solar power and $28 billion on wind, waste-to-energy, hydro and geothermal power plants across the Middle East. Though the region still has a way to go to match the carbon neutral commitments of Europe, renewables are set to become a vital part of the energy production mix. 

So where is this investment going? Below you’ll find five of the biggest renewable energy projects by Capex currently planned or under construction, creating jobs across the Middle East. 

Green Hydrogen Production Facility

Saudi Arabia
Cost: $5 billion

Saudi Arabia is leaning heavily towards hydrogen as a power source. Finding carbon-free ways to separate hydrogen molecules from water is known as Green Hydrogen generation, and this is how the Kingdom wants to satisfy its growing power demand while reducing emissions. A major investment in achieving this is the Green Hydrogen Production Facility operated by ACWA Power in partnership with Air Products & Chemicals Inc. and NEOM. 

The $5 billion plant will be built near the borders of Egypt and Jordan and will feature a 4GW wind and solar power station. Electricity generated by these renewable sources will be used for thyssenkrupp technology, a form of electrolysis that will produce 650 tonnes of green hydrogen per day. 

The plant will also use Air Products technology to produce nitrogen which will be combined with the hydrogen to produce 1.2mtpa of green ammonia. Since ammonia is safer to ship, the products will then be exported globally for later conversion back to hydrogen. 

Currently the project is still in the conceptual design stage, having only been announced by Air Products in July 2020. But it is thought that it could be online as early as 2025. 

Mohammed bin Rashin al-Maktoum Solar Park (Phase IV)

Cost: $4.4 billion

Part of the $13.6 billion, 5,000MW Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park based in the desert of Dubai, phase IV will be the first section to use concentrated solar power - with the previous three using miles of photovoltaic panels.

Phase IV alone will have a total capacity of 950MW, broken down as 700MW from CSP technology and 250MW from PV.

It will feature the world’s tallest molten salt tower plant, standing 260 metres tall and receiving focused sunlight from heliostat mirrors to power steam turbines, generating 100MW of power. In addition, three thermal oil parabolic trough power plants will each contribute 200MW.

One 250MW photovoltaic farm will make up the remainder of Phase IV.

Construction is ongoing with commissioning expected in stages - with the project reported to be progressing on schedule despite the covid-19 pandemic. Phase IV is due for completion in April 2022, while the overall Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park is scheduled to be fully operational as the world’s largest solar park by 2030.

Al Dibdibah Solar Power Plant

$1.2 billion

Phase 2 of the Al Shagaya Renewable Energy Complex. Construction of the second phase of a renewable energy complex at Shagaya, a desert area 100km west of Kuwait City, near the Iraqi border. Al-Dibdibah (al-Dibdah) project will be located over a 32-square-kilometre site at the Al-Shagaya complex.

The project is the second part of a three-phased Shagaya Renewable Energy Master Plan which was proposed by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) for a 70MW demonstration facility. The second phase will expand the plant to a capacity of 1,500MW. A third phase is also planned to bring the total capacity to 2,000 MW.

While the demonstration facility (Phase 1) is financed by the government, the second (and third) will be offered to investors on a Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) basis with main contract for design, build, operation and maintenance (DBOM).

According to KNPC, the project will have a capacity of 1,500MW comprising of 5 units of 300MW each and is expected to be completed in Q3 2021 and come online in 2022. It is understood that a third phase is planned with 2,000MW in capacity comprising of both PV and CSP which will be issued in 2021.

Al Dhafra Solar PV Plant

$1 billion

A 2GW photovoltaic (PV) plant is under construction in the Al-Dhafra area of Abu Dhabi. 

The Department of Energy (DoE) of Abu Dhabi, through the Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) will own 60% of the project, while the successful developers will own up to 40% of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) created for the project. The tendering process is managed by Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), a subsidiary of ADPC. The project will be conducted under a 30-year PPA scheme.

In April 2020, Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) revealed the lowest of five bids received for the project last November 2019. The lowest bidder, understood to be a consortium of EDF Renewables and Jinko Solar, offered the new world’s lowest price for solar electricity at $1.35 cents/kWh on a levelised cost of electricity (lcoe) basis. This is approximately 44% lower than the tariff set three years ago on the ‘Noor Abu Dhabi’ project, itself a world record low at the time. Other bidders included Acwa Power, Engie, Marubeni Corp. paired with Total Solar, and SoftBank Energy with Eni SpA. Detailed negotiations are to take place with lowest bidder, ADPower and EWEC. A power purchase agreement (PPA) is expected to be signed by May or June 2020. Financial close could be reached by September 2020. If a deal with the leading bidder can’t be reached, then ADPower would turn to the second-placed bidder, Acwa Power. 

Project completion is targeted for Q2 2022.

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Recent Comments
Cordiais saudações! Sou bacharel, frequentando o 5º ano de Engenharia Mecânica. Procuro emprego relacionado a área a que estou sendo formado.
Afonso Kalumbu Daniel, 04 December 2020
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4 of the biggest renewable energy projects in the Middle East - Time to read 6 min
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