Masdar, the new sustainable super-city being developed by Abu Dhabi, recently announced that it is building the largest grid-connected solar plant in the Middle East. The 10 MW solar plant will be half thin-film and half crystalline silicon photovoltaics, with 5 MW of thin film solar panels being provided by Arizona-based First Solar. The Masdar solar power plant is expected to reduce emissions of 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually and cost around $50 million.

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Designed by Foster + Partners, Masdar is poised to be the world’s most sustainable city. Their masterplan envisions a dvelopment that is zero-waste, car-free, and carbon neutral. Solar power will be an essential resource for the city, as the sun will also power their Rapid Transit System.

Abu Dhabi-based Environma Power Systems Designed and developed the new power plant, which will support ongoing construction activities in Masdar and later will provide energy for the Masdar Institute, which opens in late 2009. Any excess power from the plant will be fed into the Abu Dhabi electric grid.

First Solar‘s thin film photovoltaics utilize Cadmium Telluride as a semiconductor, which enables them to use only 1-2% of the semiconductor material required for traditional photovoltaic panels. Manufacturing a thin film panel takes around 2.5 hours from start to finish using First Solar’s process. The efficiency of these panels is estimated to be around 9%, and costs are expected to be below $1 per peak Watt per module. Currently, commercial efficiencies for traditional photovoltaics are above 20%, but costs rise above $1.5 per peak Watt.

Construction for the new power plant has already begun and it is expected to start generating energy by the second quarter of 2009.

+ First Solar

+ Environma Power Systems

Via Reuters