As an engineer, I expect about 10% of everything will fail. Imagining having to fix 320,000 solar panels sounds rough...


On June 29th, the world’s largest solar plant project with 3.2 million solar panels installed across an 8-kilometer site, the Noor Abu Dhabi became fully operational, with a capacity of 1,177MW. There are also differences between this project and a ‘solar park.’ A solar park is usually an area of land marked to harness solar power and usually boast multiple readily available grid connections that can support the development of several projects by different companies. The Noor Abu-Dhabi project is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, Japan’s Marubeni Corp and Chinese solar manufacturer Jinko Solar.


The project will have enough electricity in demand for up to 90,000 people, effectively offsetting emirate’s CO2 emissions by 1 million metric tons, which can remove up to 200,000 cars off the road.


The project consists of 3.2 million solar panels across an 8-km site. (Image Credit: WAM)


The $870 million project came together from a process that will see electricity sold from the site to Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) for 2.4 cents/kWh, which is the highest selling price for any completed solar project. The project was developed by Indian firm Sterling & Wilson, which involved 3,000 on-site workers during its highest activity peak.


"Noor Abu Dhabi will generate renewable energy and will enable us to improve the use of our natural resources,” said Othman Jumaa Al Ali, CEO of EWEC. “The fact that a project of such scale has been successfully completed on time and on budget highlights our commitment to ensuring sustainable energy for the future, and it is a true testament of the Emirate’s delivery capabilities to execute world-class energy projects."


Yoshiaki Yokota, Chief Operating Officer, Power Business Division of Marubeni Corporation said: "This project represents a significant milestone not only for the United Arab Emirates and the region but for the global solar industry and for the future of renewable energy. As the Managing Member of this project, Marubeni will contribute to the UAE Energy Strategy through the project’s operations phase and we continue to contribute to the global energy sector as a leading energy solutions provider."


However, if history is any indication of solar records falling quickly, the NoorAbu Dhabi project may not go very far at all, with a 2 Gigawatt power project in agreement by EWEC earlier this year.


An agreement has also been put in place for 2.6 Gigawatts of solar power in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Now that there’s financial stability in the country along with the growing need for electricity, land space and more sun, the Arabian Gulf may as well boast about this record for a long time.


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