It might seem ironic that the oil-rich Middle East also holds nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential – but yesterday the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, officially inaugurated Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in the world. The plant was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, and it cost $600 million and took three years to build. It’s owned by Masdar, Abengoa Solar and Total.

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This gargantuan power plant covers almost one square mile – the equivalent of about 285 football fields. According to Masdar, it will generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes in the United Arab Emirates. It will also displace 175,000 tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of planting 1.5 million trees or taking 15,000 cars off the road

Though Abu Dhabi has made a considerable investment in CSP, key members of Shams Power Company foresee most of the country’s renewable energy coming from solar photovoltaic systems to meet its 2020 energy target of producing 7% of its total energy from renewables. This is because photovoltaic systems are cheaper, faster to build and are able to be installed in more locations than CSP systems.

It is good to see a region so rich in oil look to grow its renewable energy potential. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar states, “the inauguration of Shams 1 is a breakthrough for renewable energy development in the Middle East. With the demand for energy rising exponentially, the region is undergoing a major transformation in how it generates electricity. In fact, the Middle East is poised for major investments in renewables, and Shams 1 proves the economic and environmental advantage of deploying large-scale solar projects.”

+ Masdar

+ Shams Power Company

Via Clean Technica