Shams 1 – The World's Largest Solar Power Plant

‘Shams’ literally means the ‘Sun’ in Arabic. Hence, the solar power plant that was proposed to be built in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was named ‘Shams 1’. By far Shams is the world’s largest solar power plant, the construction of which required 3 years to get completed.

Shams solar power plant is based on the idea of concentration of solar power. The site of Shams 1 power station is about 6 km from Madinat Zayed and approximately 120 km to the northeast from Abu Dhabi. The roadway from Tarif to Liwa Oasis provides access to the site. After 3 years of construction, the power station was inaugurated for operations on March, 2013.

Parabolic trough technology has been used in the construction of Shams 1. The power station has the capacity to generate 100 MW of power, which makes it one of the biggest parabolic trough technology power stations on the surface of the Earth. While 2013 is the year of commission for Shams 1, Shams 2 & 3 would follow suit in future.

The World's Largest Solar Power Plant

The use of solar energy for the generation of 100 MW of power that Shams 1 can produce eliminates the use of 175,000 tons of carbon-dioxide that is burnt to produce same electricity. In other words, supply of power to the 20,000 homes that Shams 1 can electrify would have otherwise led to emission of 175,000 tons of Carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. There are 258,048 parabolic trough concentrators, 27,648 absorber pipes, 192 solar assembly loops and 768 solar assembly units installed in the world’s largest solar power plant. Each of the 192 solar assembly loops has 8 solar assemblies. The entire power station occupies 2.5 square kilometers of area.

AG Ingenieria is the developer of the basic as well as detailed engineering incorporated to the plant. Fichtner Consulting Engineers has been the project consultant for Shams 1 while Foster Wheeler designed and delivered the required equipment. Abengoa solar provided it’s ASTROs as solar collectors, Flabeg manufactured the parabolic trough mirrors, PTR 70 absorber pipes of Schott AG are used as absorbers, MAN Turbo has the credit for the 125 MW turbines while Solutia is the provider of Therminol heat transfer oil.

Shams Power Company is the chief developer of the project. Abengoa Solar of Spain and Total S.A. of France have partnered in the project with 20% share for each. The development of Shams 1 is the result of build-own-operate contract signed by the company. Apart from the mentioned companies, Acwa Power International of Saudi Arabia, Grupo Cobra, Grupo Sener and Iberdrola of Spain and MAN Forrestaal and Solar Millennium of Germany had also bid for the contract of world’s largest solar power plant. $600 million is the cost of construction, which was financed by BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and other international and regional sponsors.