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UAE 1.2GW solar farm secures 25-year PPA

The Sino-Japanese team backing the solar mega-project submitted a record-low bid during the tender process last September.

Abu Dhabi's 1,177MW Sweihan solar project has secured a power purchase agreement with state-owned utility Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company for a period of 25 years. 

Japanese trading company Marubeni and Chinese solar energy developer JinkoSolar each own a 20 percent stake in the mega-project. Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, owner of ADWEC, holds 60 percent. 

Scheduled for completion in April 2019, the project will be funded by international project finance lenders, Marubeni said. 

ADWEA named the Marubeni-JinkoSolar team preferred bidder early this year, as the tie-up submitted the world’s lowest bid at that time, of 2.42 cents per kWh, among five other competing consortia, according to local reports. The initial size of the project was 350MW under the original ADWEA tender but the winning team also made an alternative proposal to expand it to over 1.17GW with an even lower offer of 2.3 cents, reports said. 

The United Arab Emirates, as well as other Middle Eastern countries, are looking to increase their renewable energy capacity in a bid to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and cater to the increasing power demand. 

Solar energy is a big part of the UAE Energy Plan 2050, which aims to have 44 percent of its power generated from renewable energy sources in the next 33 years. The plan also aims to produce 38 percent from gas, 12 percent from fossil fuel and six percent from nuclear energy. Currently, more than 90 percent of the emirates’ energy supply are generated from gas. 

For its part, Marubeni currently owns and operates four thermal independent power and water projects in the UAE. The company said it will continue to expand its power business in both the renewables and conventional sectors.