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Financial Close for Record Solar Park in Abu Dhabi

Shanghai, China - The upscaling of the world's largest solar projects is progressing at a rapid pace. While photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of several 100 megawatts (MW) were recently among the world's largest solar parks, current solar projects in India and China as well as the Al Dhafra project in Abu Dhabi are already setting the bar much higher.

Financial Close for Al Dhafra PV Project Paves the Way for Start of Construction

A consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) and Masdar with partners EDF and Jinkopower announced the financial closing of the 2,000 MW (2 GW) Al Dhafra solar project in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi shortly before the end of the year. The approximately 1 billion USD transaction has been funded via project financing with BNP Paribas as bookrunner together with Bank of China, Crédit Agricole, HSBC, MUFG, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Standard Chartered, as mandated lead arrangers. The closing of the financing is a prerequisite for the start of construction of the mega project.

According to EDF and Jinko, the Al Dhafra solar project will be the first plant of such scale to deploy bifacial module technology, capturing as such light on both sides of the PV modules and thus benefits from the reflection of light by the ground in order to yield higher generation. The plant spans over 20 square kilometres of desert climate area, with more than 4 million PV modules. Upon commissioning, targeted in 2022, this project will provide the equivalent electricity to power over 160,000 households.

EDF Renewables and Jinko Power each hold a 20 per cent stake, with the remaining 60 per cent owned by TAQA and Masdar. The four partners had previously signed a 30-year long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) on 23 July 2020 for a tariff of AED 4.97 fils / kWh (= USD 1.35 cents / kWh or 1.15 euro cents / kWh).

2,000 MW solar parks become standard - Mega solar project planned in Australia

The Al Dhafra project in Abu Dhabi is one of a number of solar projects currently being built or planned worldwide with a capacity of about 2,000 MW. In India, the Bhadla solar park in the north of the country on the border with Pakistan has already reached a capacity of 2,245 MW with the completion of a 300 MW sub-project in spring 2020. The overall project consists of the four solar parks Bhadla I to IV (65 MW, 680 MW, 1,000 MW and 500 MW). The entire solar park complex covers an area of more than 14,000 hectares and is located in Bhadla village in Jodhpur district in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. In China, the Chinese company Sungrow, one of the world's leading suppliers of inverters for PV systems, connected a huge solar park, with a capacity of 2,200 MW to the grid in Qinghai province in the northeast of the Tibetan plateau in September 2020. The solar park in Qinghai is coupled with a 203 MWh solar storage facility and connected to an 800 kV ultra-high voltage transmission line, that will transport electricity from western China to the densely populated east of the country.

Meanwhile, in Australia, plans are underway for a solar project that is likely to dwarf previous mega-solar power plants. In the north of Australia, the project developer Sun Cable is currently developing a huge PV park Australia-Asean Power Link (AAPL). The AAPL project will include the world's largest solar farm with a capacity of 10,000 MW, the world's largest battery with a capacity of 30 GWh and a 4,500 km long high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system that will run from the solar/storage facility to Darwin, through Singapore and finally to Indonesia.

Source: IWR Online, 04 Jan 2021