Masdar 'set to go' at Noor 1 PV

Masdar is expected to pull the investment trigger on its long-awaited Noor 1 PV plant in the next few months, with in-house panel producer Masdar PV likely to receive a substantial portion of the module order.

Noor 1 – intended to follow Masdar’s 100MW Shams 1 parabolic-trough CSP plant completed last year in Abu Dhabi – has faced a number of unexplained delays since it was first unveiled in 2011.

Several months after the project was announced, however, the whole of the Masdar organisation appeared to hit a speed bump, including a slimming of its staff and a reining-in of its near-term ambitions.

Nearly a year ago Masdar chief executive Sultan al-Jabbar brought Noor 1 back to the forefront, claiming the project was “in the final stages of evaluation” and that major announcements would likely be made in late 2013.

It now appears the project will be given the green light “in the next few months”, says The National, an English language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi. Like Masdar itself, The National is owned by the state-controlled Mubadala Development Company.

The revelation comes as solar power gains momentum across the Middle East, as oil-producing countries look to maximise exports by deriving electricity from renewables rather than burning fossil fuels. Masdar has previously stated its ambition to play a leading role in the development of major solar projects across North Africa and the Middle East, including neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Masdar officials claim that half of the modules for Noor 1 will be sourced from Masdar PV, the Germany-based producer of thin-film modules that Masdar established several years before the PV industry’s downturn. The modules from Masdar PV will be no more expensive than those bought from third-party suppliers to cover the other half of the project, officials insist.

Despite the fast-growing global market for PV, publicly announced orders have been thin on the ground for Masdar PV over the past few years.

At one point Masdar had plans to open a second module factory in the United Arab Emirates, but those aspirations were quickly put on the backburner.