Abu Dhabi project to tie Blythe in size with same tech

Foster Wheeler announced earlier this week that it would build a 100 mega-watt solar facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The solar trough plant will be equal only to the planned Blythe project in the Mojave Desert of California and surpassed by no other solar project in the world.

The project will feature concentrated parabolic trough technology. Foster Wheeler announced that it will deliver the supplies for the new installation by the third quarter of 2011, according to a press release from the company.

“This solar thermal power plant represents one of the first steps toward the introduction of sustainable energy sources in the region, representing a strategic development for this country,” Eric Svendsen, chief executive officer of Foster Wheeler Energia, said in a press statement released Monday. “The expanded ‘boiler island’ scope for the project’s solar steam generation equipment reflects our client´s recognition of and confidence in Foster Wheeler´s technology and execution leadership in the solar power market.”

Foster Wheeler executives were reluctant to offer details about the project beyond what was revealed in a press release. But a spokesman for the company did reply to e-mail questions.

He said it’s hard to measure the amount and speed of solar and renewable energy development in the UAE because “developments worldwide are quite varied.” There is a lot happening in the industry right now, and it’s hard to say who in the world is ahead and who is behind in terms of clean-energy development.

He said the technology is the same used in the Blythe solar project in California’s Mojave Desert. The Blythe solar project, announced earlier this month, is expected to break ground before the end of 2010 and to be the largest solar plant in the world.

This Abu Dhabi project will be equal in size and will employ the same solar trough technology, which heats water to generate steam and use somewhat traditional power generation methods, but with clean renewable energy rather than coal or natural gas, the spokesman wrote.

“Trough technology itself is regarded as more proven, based upon established SEGS plants in California and Solar One plant in Nevada,” the spokesman wrote. “Tower designs normally can reach higher temperatures and higher efficiencies, but no large towers are operating yet in the world.”

Foster Wheeler has become known for its Tower designs. It recently announced another large-scale solar tower project in Spain.