A 100 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar plant (CSP) under construction in Abu Dhabi is the first of its kind in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world.
The Shams 1 facility, which covers 617 acres near Abu Dhabi, is scheduled to connect to the grid before the end of March.
Because it is a parabolic trough design, it requires less land than other CSP technologies.
768 parabolic trough collectors with 258,000 mirrors track the sun throughout the day and concentrate its energy on tubes that carry a heat transfer fluid, heating it to 400 degrees Celsius. The fluid passes through a natural gas-powered booster, where it is heated another 140 degrees Celsius to generate steam for a conventional steam turbine.
The plant is one of the flagship projects being developed by Masdar, an organization funded by the Mubadala Development Company, the strategic investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government. It is structured as a joint venture that also includes French oil company Total and Spain's Abengoa.
Masdar is also developing a desalination plant that runs on renewable energy.
But the organization is probably best known for its ambitious, Masdar City plan to build the world's first zero carbon, zero waste city, slated for completion in 2025.
Abu Dhabi aims to source 7% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, contributing to the recent spate of renewable energy investments by Middle East countries. Saudi Arabia is targeting 100% by 2032, and Qatar's short-term target is 1.8 gigawatts by 2014.