China’s Belt and Road Initiative: United Arab Emirates builds world’s largest integrated solar power project

The latest stage of world’s largest integrated solar power generation project has been connected to the national grid of the United Arab Emirates for power generation in the city of Dubai, converting solar energy into electricity for locals around the clock. It is being built by a Chinese enterprise.

The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park was a 13 MW facility, the second phase added a further 200 MW, phase three is set to hit another 800 MW, and the 700 MW concentrating solar power system planned as phase four has now been supplemented by an additional 250 MW of planned photovolataic (PV) capacity, ensuring phase five will see the project reach more than 2.8 GW of solar generation capacity.

 Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park | Credit: DEWA

The fourth phase project of the Maktoum Solar Park, a key project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative undertaken by the Shanghai Electric Group by contract, consists of a 262-meter-high solar power tower, three parabolic trough solar thermal collector units and a photovoltaic unit, with the total installed capacity coming up to 950 megawatt, covering an area of 44 square kilometers.

So far, the photovoltaic power generation unit of the fourth phase project has been put into commercial operation, and has begun to transmit electricity to Dubai. The solar power tower of the project is expected to be put into commercial operation this summer, and the trough units are expected to be connected to the national grid for power generation by the end of this year.

As the world’s largest integrated solar energy project so far, the fourth phase project of the Maktoum Solar Park features three technologies: the central tower solar thermal technology, the trough solar thermal technology and the photovoltaic power generation technology. After the project is completed and put into operation, it will meet the electricity demand of 320,000 households in Dubai, and reduce 1.6 million tons of carbon emissions every year, in helping save energy and reduce emissions. Dubai announced the launch of the “Clean Energy Strategy” in November 2015, aiming to meet 75 percent of Dubai’s total electricity demand with clean energy by 2050.

In July 2020, the Saudi owned developer ACWA Power announced that Chinese power company Shanghai Electric will develop the $564 million 900 MW fifth phase of the park in three 300 MW stages, each requiring a year to complete.

ACWA said that the firth phase of PV facility will be the “first utility scale solar PV power plant to operate remotely, with zero manpower on site.”


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World's largest integrated solar power project built by China is connected to the grid in Dubai, UAE