Most Influential Projects 2021

20 Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic Plant

Energy | Middle East & North Africa
Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic Plant

For helping the UAE diversify its energy—and its economy

The United Arab Emirates is getting serious about alternatives to fossil fuel: setting out to build what’s being billed as the world’s largest single-site solar power plant. Located 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Abu Dhabi City, the US$1-billion Al Dhafra project is the brainchild of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.—which sees it as a gamechanger. When project financing closed in December 2020, group CEO and Managing Director Jasim Husain Thabet called it a “benchmark project for our nation and the global energy sector.” 

The multinational team—which includes Masdar, EDF Renouvelables and Jinko Power—isn’t only pushing for bigger, but also better. For instance, bifacial panels will capture solar energy from both sides and increase efficiency at the plant, slated to be operational by 2022. 

For the UAE, which generates 30 percent of its GDP from oil, the 2-gigawatt plant could play a major role in helping fulfill its National Climate Change Plan, which calls for 50 percent renewable energy use by 2050.