Saudi Gazette – The COP21 climate change deal, signed last week in Paris, confirms that the leaders of 200 nations are now committed to embracing renewable energy as an important tool to limiting the rise of the ambient temperature on earth without compromising on continuing to provide much needed energy to fuel social development and economic growth.
Commenting on what the deal meant for the countries of Middle East and Africa, Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power, said: “The deal signed in Paris has the potential to fundamentally change for ever the way the world generates and utilizes electricity.”
“We welcome the commitment embedded in the agreement to rapidly move towards both ‘low’ and ‘no’ emission power generation which is a game-changer. At ACWA Power we’re already supporting diversification of the energy mix to include renewables in the Arabian Gulf, and to ensuring that GCC nations have the tools to deliver a sustainable energy strategy for future generations without compromising on employment creation and economic development.”
In 2015 ACWA Power signed contracts on two record beating projects in the UAE with Dubai Water & Electricity Authority (DEWA), one solar and one clean coal.
ACWA Power, in collaboration with TSK, will develop and operate the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, to produce 200MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar power. It set a milestone for utility-scale solar power generation with the world’s lowest tariff for solar PV energy.
The project, one of the largest strategic new Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects in the renewable-energy market worldwide, occupies 4.5 square kilometers and will avoid 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
The second project, the Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant, will be developed and operated by a consortium of Harbin Electrical International and ACWA Power. The project utilizes ultra-supercritical (USC) technology which requires less coal per megawatt-hour than conventional coal fired power stations due to higher performance efficiency, leading to lower Green House Gas emissions. These emissions are being cleaned to an extra tough level of standards not adopted in any coal-fired power plant either in operation or construction in the world.
By delivering a levelized electricity cost of $4.501 /kWH, one of the lowest if not the lowest tariffs for such a high specification plant, the project is also opening the opportunity for implementing Carbon Capture in the future as the total cost of the coal fired power and carbon capture could well be not significantly out of line with other carbon ‘low’ or carbon ‘nil’ options such as gas fired power or CSP solar power for base load application. The plant is ‘future proofed’ by incorporating provision for easy integration of carbon capture equipment in the future.
Both projects are in line with the ‘green economy’ initiative for sustainable development championed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The initiative is a central piece of the Supreme Council of Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, designed to diversify the UAE’s energy mix and reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants.
Padmanathan further said: “Proudly being a Saudi Arabian company we’ve been leading the way to propagate the deployment of renewable energy well ahead of COP21. ACWA Power was one of the first companies to declare a voluntary target of adding 5% power generation from renewable sources to its asset portfolio within the following five years and pushed ahead to embark on pace setting projects challenging the cost paradigm in both CSP and PV solar technologies. As we achieve our targets we will start to avoid more than 2.4 million tons of carbon dioxide a year within the next three years.”
ACWA Power’s commitment to renewables also extends to its expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa where its first project, Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power Plant, the world’s largest storage solar farm, has recently come on line at full capacity. It is a greenfield project being developed on a BOO (build, own and operate) basis located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa with a net generation capacity of 50 MW with 9 hours of thermal energy storage, thus making it the CSP power plant with the longest duration of thermal storage in the world.