Abu Dhabi -- What does it say that one of the largest producers of oil, The United Arab Emirates, is aggressively developing renewable energy? Clearly the country is thinking about a world beyond fossil energies.
Realizing that world isn't easy. Since 2006, the Masdar City project – an attempt to build a sustainable 45,000-person city from scratch by 2016 in the UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi – has gotten a lot of attention for the scope (and not to mention incongruity) of its mission. But the project has been delayed until 2020 because of slow construction, sandstorms and cost overruns.
Even with these problems, Abu Dhabi is still committed to getting 7% of its energy from renewables by 2020. A small target compared to other cities and countries, yes. But it's also a symbolically significant move from a country that gives the world such large quantities of oil and gas.
This week, a major Masdar project moved one small step toward development: The companies Total and Abengoa were selected to build and operate the Shams 1 concentrating solar power plant, a 100 MW facility will be the largest single field of CSP mirrors in the world. At 354 MW, the SEGS projects in the Mojave Desert are bigger, but they are split up into seperate fields.
The joint venture between Masdar (60%), Total (20%) and Abengoa Solar (20%) will develop the plant, which will be located in Madinat Zayed, approximately 120 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The field of 786 mirrors produced by Abengoa will extend over an area of about 2.5 square kilometers. Construction of the plant will begin later this year and will likely take about two years. If the progress of Masdar's other initiatives is any sign, don't be surprised it takes longer than that.
Haven't seen the plans for the Masdar City yet? Check it out in YouTube