Companies bidding to help build Abu Dhabi's first large-scale solar power plant will source half of their panels from Masdar, the Government's clean-energy company.
Masdar, the company that is looking for a partner to build the 100 megawatt Nour 1 plant, owns a solar panel factory in Germany.
"The price of the product is just one element in the overall cost," said Frank Wouters, the director of Masdar Power. "You can't really only focus on the price of one component because they have different efficiencies and different cost structures."
The panels from Masdar would be supplied at the same cost as panels from the firm with the winning bid, he said. The contract is expected to be awarded later this year.
Plans for Nour 1 are driven by the emirate's target, unveiled in 2009, of sourcing 7 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020, a task that would require building one 100-megawatt plant per year. A thermal solar plant, the US$700 million (Dh2.57 billion) Shams 1, is under construction in the Western Region and commissioning could begin as soon as next month.
Suntech, a Chinese solar manufacturer, is involved in one of the half a dozen bids for Nour 1. Fourteen companies had been pre-qualified in July.
"I think there have been delays in the bidding process and in some of the announcements, but I think in the next two quarters we'll expect a result," said Andrew Beebe, the chief commercial officer of Suntech, which also supplied half the panels for the smaller 10-megawatt installation at Masdar City. "The economics of Nour 1 look fantastic. That bid was put together very professionally and with great management of it and the timing happened to be such that it was probably the most fiercely competitive bid that we've seen in a long time."
Companies are already preparing to bid for a second photovoltaic solar plant that would go under the name Nour 2, although no tender has been announced.
"We believe that we have everything in order to make something sound for this country," said Jean-Marc Otero del Val, a deputy senior vice president in Total's gas and power division. "We believe it's quite soon. Hopefully the sooner the better for us."