Named after the sun, the Shams solar power project has been a shining light in renewable energy in the Middle East since 2013 and Masdar’s first utility-scale solar project in the region is now celebrating its 10th anniversary this week.
When Shams was launched, it was the largest renewable energy project in the Middle East. Its success paved the way for other clean energy plants in the UAE and the region. The 100-megwatt plant produces enough electricity to power 20,000 UAE homes, and has created over 150 jobs in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region.
“Masdar has always been the largest shareholder of the Shams power plant. The idea itself came from Masdar,” said Majed Al Awadhi, General Manager of the Shams Power Company. “So, we can say Shams is the baby of Masdar. It is considered the flagship renewable energy project in the UAE. Shams aspires to become the leader in the industry and across the world.”
Shams has helped to displace 1.75 million tonnes of emissions over the past 10 years, equivalent to planting 15 million trees or removing 150,000 cars from Abu Dhabi’s streets.
When the UAE hosts COP28 later this year, Shams will serve as an example of the country’s long-term commitment to clean energy. The trailblazing project is helping the UAE to meet its goal of generating 30 percent of its energy mix from renewables by 2030.
Shams was developed by Masdar in partnership with Total Energy, a French multinational energy company.
“Both companies will be able to reach the ambition of becoming sustainable energy suppliers in the UAE and beyond, in the region and the world,” said Emmanuel Gayan, Head of MENA at Total Energies. “We work towards success.”
Shams’ history is also being shared to inspire younger generations. Last year the Al Dhafra Innovation Center was established as a knowledge hub for renewable energy in the UAE.
Ali Al Masabi is the Shams Power Company’s plant manager. He was sent to Japan by Masdar to learn about renewable energy. Nowadays, he shares his knowledge with visitors at the Innovation Center.
“Students who visit here are really excited to learn about renewable energy. They have never had the chance to come to a working plant before,” he said. “I wish to pass on all my knowledge, and everything I have learned, to the next generation.”