Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) along with its partners Masdar, EDF Renewables and JinkoPower have completed financial closing for the Al Dhafra Solar project, to be located near Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The 2GW Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Independent Power Producer (IPP) project will be located about 35km from Abu Dhabi. It is expected to be operational in 2022.

The facility, touted to be the world’s largest single-site solar plant, will supply clean power to Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) for 30 years.

The energy generated from nearly four million solar PV panels of the solar plant will be enough to power nearly 160,000 homes across the country.

Seven international banks have agreed to provide financing for the 2GW solar project, after signing the power purchase agreement in July this year.

Earlier this year, the competitive bidding had led to one of the most competitive tariffs, at AED4.97 fils/kWh ($1.35 cents/kWh), which upon financial closing, was further improved to AED4.85 fils/kWh ($1.32 cents/kWh).

The low cost is claimed to have been driven by hedging and financing cost improvements, along with other optimisation efforts.

TAQA owns a 40% stake in Al Dhafra Solar project, while the remaining partners – Masdar, EDF Renewables and JinkoPower – own 20% stake each.

TAQA group CEO and managing director Jasim Husain Thabet said: “The financial closing of the world’s largest solar plant marks the beginning of an important chapter for this IPP project, for TAQA Group and for the UAE as we continue to deliver on our bold clean energy ambitions, while demonstrating the commercial and operational viability of utility-scale single-site solar projects.”

The solar plant will feature crystalline, bifacial solar panels, which will enable in more efficient electricity generation by capturing solar irradiation from both front and backside of the panel.

When fully operational, the solar plant is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes annually, which is equivalent to taking away about 470,000 cars off the road.

Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said: “We congratulate all the partners on achieving the financial close for this monumental solar power project, which again underlines the growing appeal of renewable energy from both a commercial and environmental perspective, and the attractiveness of the UAE as a location for the world’s largest and most cost-competitive renewable energy projects.

“Achieving this milestone is a significant step forward in the development of the Al Dhafra project and the realization of the UAE leadership’s vision for a diversified power sector.”