Marubeni has announced the start of commercial operations at the 1.177GW Sweihan solar plant in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Located at Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, the power generated from the solar project will be sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement to the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC).

The Sweihan solar plant is expected to generate power enough to supply for approximately 195,000 homes, apart from offsetting approximately seven million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

Marubeni, in a statement, said: “UAE (and other Middle Eastern countries) is aiming to increase its installed capacity of renewable energy in order to minimize its demand on fossil fuels and also to satisfy increasing power demand. To contribute to  Middle  Eastern countries’ stable  electricity  supply, Marubeni  will  expand its IPP  business in the renewable sector in addition to conventional gas-fired I(W)PPs.”

The solar project is owned by Abu Dhabi Power (AD Power) (60%) and the remaining stake is owned by Marubeni (20%) and JinkoSolar (20%). The three companies had formed a joint venture to construct, own, operate and maintain the PV plant.

In May, 2017, the project secured a loan from a group of eight commercial banks including Natixis, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking, the Norinchukin Bank, SMBC, Credit Agricole-CIB, BNP Paribas, and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Construction on the Sweihan solar plant began in May 2017

With construction beginning in May 2017, the plant is claimed to have been completed within 23 months, as originally planned. It is estimated that nearly $870m (£686m) was invested on the project.

Initially, a 350MW project was proposed, but the size of the project was increased to 1.17GW because of the availability of additional land. The project is located on 780 hectares of land, about 120km from the City of Abu Dhabi.

Sterling and Wilson, an Indian company, was the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project. While the solar panels were supplied by JinkoSolar, the solar inverters were supplied by Ingeteam Power Technology.