The 2GW Al Dhafra Solar PV project comprises four million solar panels.

Abu Dhabi-based Masdar has joined hands with leading energy company Taqa, French group EDF Renewables and China’s JinkoPower for the launch of the 2GW Al Dhafra Solar PV project, the world’s largest single-site solar power plant, spanning more than 20 sq km of Abu Dhabi desert.

Located 35 km from Abu Dhabi city, the landmark solar plant was built in a single phase and generates enough electricity to power almost 200,000 homes, displacing 2.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Al Dhafra Solar PV had created 4,500 jobs during the peak of the construction phase. It uses almost four million solar panels which deploy innovative bi-facial technology, ensuring sunlight is captured on both sides of the panels to maximise yield, said Masdar.

The project was inaugurated by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi, in the presence of senior officials of Masdar and its partners as well as procurer Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec).

Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Hazza said: “As the UAE prepares to host COP28, this pioneering project reflects the country’s ongoing commitment to raising its share of clean energy, reducing its carbon emissions and supporting the global efforts on climate action.

“In less than 15 years, the UAE has become a global leader in solar energy. In 2009, Masdar switched on the country’s first solar project at 10 MW, Al Dhafra Solar PV represents a plant that is 200 times that size. As the countdown to COP28 in the UAE begins, this mega project initially achieved the world’s lowest tariff at financial close, and demonstrates the country’s longstanding commitment to decarbonisation, at home and around the world,” he added.

Al Dhafra Solar PV, planned and procured by Ewec, has broken records in terms of cost for utility-scale solar projects. Initially the project led to one of the most competitive tariffs for solar power set at AED4.97 fils/kWh, which upon financial close, was further improved to AED4.85 fils/kWh.