x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Everyone under the sun has a role in concentrating solar power at Shams 1

The Shams 1 project has three main partners: Masdar, Spain's Abengoa Sola and France's Total.

Spain's Abengoa and France's Total have boosted Shams 1, says Yousif Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company. The National
Spain's Abengoa and France's Total have boosted Shams 1, says Yousif Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company. The National

The Shams 1 project has three main partners - the UAE sustainable technology firm Masdar, the Spanish concentrated solar power company Abengoa Solar, and the French-controlled energy giant Total.

Masdar, funded through the Abu Dhabi government's investment arm Mubadala, has a controlling 60 per cent stake in the venture, with 20 per cent each owned by Abengoa and Total.

Eighty per cent of the Dh2.2billion of funding has come from 10 banks, including five European banks, three Japanese banks and National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Union National Bank locally.

"It is a flagship project by itself, but also a reference point for more projects within this region," said Bader Al Lamki, director of Masdar's clean energy unit.

"There has been increased attention to renewables since we embarked on the project. It is a true demonstration of partnership, in the sense that we have implemented this on the ground with Total and Abengoa."

According to Yousif Al Ali, general manager of Shams Power Company, Masdar, a government entity, is mandated to "develop the renewable energy sector in Abu Dhabi".

The company, he said, is "involved in the whole value chain of the sector".

Shams Power Company was set up as a special purpose vehicle to deliver the project. "Masdar also have an investment arm where we invest in companies who have promising technologies, and we ourselves develop technology," he added.

Through the Masdar Institute, the company aims to continue developing local expertise in its various degree programmes.

The presence of two major energy companies has been a huge boost to the project, Mr Al Ali says. "Total have a long history and track record in the region working as a partner of Abu Dhabi and the UAE," he said. "They have extensive experience with operation and maintenance.

"Then there is Abengoa [Solar] who are the leaders of developing [concentrated solar power, or CSP]. They are specialised people in this technology"

The company has a presence in 14 countries, having developed 26 CSP plants worldwide, and employs more than 1,200 people.

They include two commercial solar towers in Spain and one under construction in South Africa.

Abengoa designed the CSP structure at Shams 1.

The German company Schott designed and built the 27,648 absorber pipes that take the heat from the parabolic mirrors, and then feed it into the power plant.

The 258,048 mirrors themselves were sourced from another German company, Flabeg, which has been developing the technology since the 1970s.

And crucial elements came from local firms, including the fabrication of the single most expensive part of the plant - the heat transfer fluid and booster heaters that improve the efficiency of the plant's steam turbine. "Something we are proud of in this project is that most of the contracts were given to local contractors," Mr Al Ali said.

There is also a gas supply agreement with Adnoc, a connection agreement with Transco and a land agreement with Adfec.

The gas is used when the Abu Dhabi grid needs support at night. A small amount is also used within the operation to make the plant the most efficient concentrated solar plant in the world.

Other components include the solar steam generator from the engineering and construction firm Foster Wheeler, an air cooled condenser from GEA Group, and the steam turbine from MAN Group.

And the relationships cultivated for this project could lead to future collaborations.

Earlier this year, Jean-Marc Otero Del Val, the vice president of Total's new-energy division, was keen to point out the trust developing between his company and Masdar.

"We have developed trust between the two organisations," he said.

"Both Masdar and Total have agreed to deepen their relationship and explore other avenues of cooperation in the UAE and outside the UAE."

Total has been a presence in the region since 1939, and has been examining solar power technology for 25 years.

It owns a 60 per cent share of the American renewables company SunPower, and said it is now the world's third largest solar energy operator.

And not least, the UAE government has a major part to play in the future success of Shams 1, providing a green payment scheme to Shams to supplement the payment of electricity by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority to buy the energy produced.