Dubai tenders for first CSP plant; Saudi Arabia seeks $50bn solar, wind investments

Solar thermal news you need to know.

Dubai launches tender for 200 MW CSP capacity

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) issued January 15 a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a 200 MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant which represents the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The plant must be completed by April 2021 and DEWA has prequalified at least six groups to submit proposals, according to reports. Bidders must submit proposals by May 15.

DEWA is eyeing a globally-competitive tariff of around $80/MWh for its first-ever CSP project, due to high investor confidence in local banking markets and global pricing pressure from growing project pipelines, experts told CSP Today.

The total capacity of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will reach 1 GW by 2020 and 5,000MW by 2030, according to DEWA.

In June 2016, DEWA announced a Masdar-led consortium would build the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The 800 MW PV project set a world record-low Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) at $29.9/MWh.

Dubai has set a renewable energy target of 7% of energy production by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.

Saudi Arabia seeks up to $50 billion in new solar, wind investments

Saudi Arabia wants to attract up to $50 billion of investments in solar and wind projects by 2030 and will start issuing project tenders "within weeks," Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, said January 16.

Saudi Arabia wants to build 10 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2023, Mr Falih said, according to a report by the Financial Times.

This objective is more bullish than the target of 9.5 GW of solar and wind power by 2030, announced in April by the Saudi government as part of its Vision 2030 plan of new economic and social objectives.

The energy minister also confirmed Saudi Arabia plans to build its first nuclear power plants and is currently seeking design proposals for some 2.8 GW of nuclear capacity, the Financial Times reported.

Saudi Arabia launched its first competitive solar power tender in June 2016, for two 50 MW solar power plants in the north of the Kingdom.

The solar-rich Kingdom can meet its growing power needs solely through the deployment of new solar projects with energy storage, Dr Ibrahim Babelli, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia, said at the MENASol conference in May 2016.

As Chief Strategist for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy from 2010 to 2015, Babelli led the development of new regulatory frameworks for renewable and nuclear power.

A combination of PV and CSP with storage would be able to cover Saudi Arabia’s seasonal demand peaks and would cost less than new large scale nuclear generation, Babelli said.

Capital One bank acquires $78mn tax equity stake in Crescent Dunes

Capital One bank has acquired a tax equity stake in SolarReserve’s 110 MW Crescent Dunes CSP plant in Nevada, U.S. through an investment of up to $78 million, SolarReserve said January 13.

The Crescent Dunes plant provides 10 hours of energy storage using molten salt technology and entered into commercial operations in late 2015. The plant was eligible for 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

“Now that the Crescent Dunes project is in commercial operations, the initial equity investors, led by SolarReserve, secured Capital One as a tax equity investor as part of their strategy to bring in additional long term investment into the project,” the developer said.

Tax equity investors finance and own projects for a certain number of years and in return gain credits and other incentives. Financial institutions have heavy tax liabilities and can put to use the tax credits and accelerated depreciation associated with renewable energy projects.

SolarReserve, along with initial equity investors ACS Cobra, and Santander, will maintain their ownership stakes, the developer said.

SolarReserve announced plans in October 2016 to build up to 2 GW of new CSP tower capacity in Nevada. The $5 billion Sandstone project would consist of up to 10 concentrated solar tower plants, each of capacity 150 MW-200 MW and equipped with molten salt for storage. Much of the power would be sent to California to cover high afternoon and evening power demand which cannot be met by PV and wind capacity.

The U.S. has seen only a handful of large-scale CSP plants in recent years while PV and wind capacity has soared. Falling technology costs for PV and wind have meant CSP plants have struggled to compete on a cost per MWh basis.

                           US solar thermal capacity

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

New Energy Update