The 100-megawatt plant, called Shams 1, is a first step in a plan to make seven percent of Abu Dhabi's energy resources renewable, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, said during a news conference. Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates, which are famed for their oil wealth. The emirates rank 13th in the world for per capita GDP, a standing driven mostly by their oil exports.
The new plant includes a huge field of parabolic mirrors located in the desert about 74 miles (120 kilometers) south of Abu Dhabi. Shams 1 will serve 20,000 homes and cost an estimated $600 million to build, the BBC reported. Similar Shams 2 and Shams 3 plants are in the works, Clean Technica reported.
The Shams 1 plant is just one of several ambitious solar projects in the Middle East: Noor-1, a 100-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility planned for the UAE, is expected to begin development later this year, the National reports.
And Saudi Arabia plans to generate 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2032, according to SustainableBusiness.com, while Qatar's renewable energy target is 1.8 gigawatts by 2014.