Who Needs Oil? World’s Largest Solar Power Plant With 258,000 Mirrors Opens In Abu Dhabi

-100-megawatt plant will power thousands United Arab Emirates homes
-It is hoped that it will also displace 175,000 tons of CO2 each year
-Plant covers 2.5 sq/km of desert, equivalent to 285 football pitches

You might think that as one of the world’s top oil producing nations, the United Arab Emirates would have little use for solar energy. But that hasn’t stopped the Middle East state from unveiling the largest concentrated solar power plant in operation anywhere in the world.

The 100-megawatt solar-thermal project in Abu Dhabi will power thousands of homes in the country and, it is hoped, displace approximately 175,000 tons of CO2 per year.

The $600million (£398million) project dubbed Shams 1 took three years to build.

Incorporating the latest in parabolic trough technology, the plant features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors, covering an area of 2.5 sq/km, or 285 football fields.

By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine to generate electricity.

In addition, the solar project uses a booster to heat steam as it enters the turbine to dramatically increase the cycle’s efficiency.

The project also includes a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption – a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi.