First Solar completes 13MW in Dubai

First Solar has handed over the 13MW plant it has been building for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – its first project in the Middle East, and the region’s largest PV array to date.

The 153,000 FS Series 3 modules installed at the site will feed 24 million kWh of power onto the grid each year.

Far more important, however, will be the project’s impact on the energy debate in the emirate, which is among the world’s highest energy consumers on a per capita basis, and a trendsetter in the region.

The 13MW array is the first phase of what is intended to become a 1GW solar park some 50km south of Dubai, incorporating both PV and CSP.

While the 1GW park is not slated for completion until 2030, many experts believe Dubai could vastly overshoot its target if it comes to view solar energy as an economically feasible proposition.

The 13MW array demonstrates “many of the attributes – such as reliability, affordability, scalability and speed of deployment – that make solar power such an attractive proposition”, says Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.

First Solar took 195 days to build the project, with nearly 1,300 workers on site at peak construction.

The array represents the first major trophy in the Middle East for First Solar, which has significantly elevated the region on its list of priorities over the past year.

The US thin-film giant says it was able to source racks, transformers, cables and switchgears from local suppliers.

First Solar is not the only major PV player moving aggressively into the Middle East.

Yesterday Canadian Solar nailed down its first order in the region – a 1.78MW deal in Saudi Arabia – and German developer and EPC specialist Juwi recently launched a subsidiary in Dubai.