Contract awarded for Dubai’s tallest solar tower

Mohammed bin Rashid
A field of solar photovoltaic panels that form part of the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park, image: Dominic Dudley /

The contract for phase four of Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park has been awarded to Belgium-based Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie (CMI) to build a solar receiver on top of a 260m-high tower.

Thousands of sun-tracking mirrors will be spread over several square kilometres around the tower, and will focus the sun’s energy onto the 30m-high CMI receiver. The receiver will then heat molten salts above 560ºC, and the heat transfer fluid can then be sent to energy storage tanks to for later use or to be used immediately to produce high-temperature steam that will flow through a steam turbine to produce electricity.

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The huge concentrated solar project (CSP) named after the Emir of Dubai is the centrepiece of Dubai’s goal of generating 75 per cent of the Emirate’s electricity demand from renewable energy by 2050. When completed in 2030, the Solar Park will have an installed capacity of 5,000 MW from an investment of approximately 12 billion euros. Launched in 2013, the Solar Park’s first three phases are dedicated to producing photovoltaic power (PV).

Phase 4, known as the DEWA project for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, is expected to cost over 3.3 billion euros. ACWA Power, one of the world’s largest developers of CSP projects, won the development contract for Phase 4. ACWA Power has selected Shanghai Electric as EPC. CMI Energy was awarded the contract for the solar receiver in October 2018.

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CSP and the use of molten salts have two significant advantages over conventional wind and solar PV projects. First, high-temperature molten salts permit energy storage, so power may be generated 24 hours a day. Second, the power output of a CSP plant is dispatchable, which means electricity production may be controlled to match grid demand, unlike wind and solar PV.