UAE Reverses Gas-to-Power Strategy
The United Arab Emirates launched the world’s biggest solar power plant with 1.177 GW capacity on June 30, ending its gas-to-power strategy. The state-run Water and Electricity Company said the $870mn Noor Abu Dhabi solar power plant would cut CO2 emissions by 1mn metric tons/yr.
Almost all UAE’s 140 TWh electricity generation comes from gas-fired power plants but the country launched a plan in 2017 to boost the renewables share in total power generation to 50% by 2050.
UAE produces about 65bn m3/yr gas, but it also imported 18.2bn m3 Qatari gas in 2018, according to BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy.
The Noor Abu Dhabi solar power plant was built by Abu Dhabi Power Corporation and a consortium of Japan’s Marubeni and China’s Jinko Solar Holding. The cost of electricity generation at this plant is reportedly at 2.4 cents/kWh, the lowest rate in the world.
The country also announced a tender in early 2019 to build a 2-GW solar power plant, but there is no official information yet about the results.
Alongside gas production, UAE is the third biggest Opec producer with up to 3mn b/d crude oil and 940,000 b/d of other liquids output, but the country has focused on renewables to allow more oil exports and to cut gas imports.
The country’s power generation output has risen at nearly 5.5%/yr for the last decade.