Abu Dhabi throws the switch on world’s largest single-site solar project

Abu Dhabi is claiming the title of the world’s largest single-site solar project, having hit the go-button on the Noor Abu Dhabi project this week, with a reported capacity of 1.177 gigawatts, eclipsing Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park – for now at least. The United Arab Emirates doesn’t have a great record when it comes to per-capita carbon footprint, but projects like this show that it’s serious about addressing the issue head-on.

Rivalry between nation states can often be a driver of progress, and this is particularly evident when observing Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s efforts to trump each other in the field of solar power. By kicking the world’s largest single-site solar project into full commercial operation this week, Abu Dhabi looks to have scored a decisive goal against its neighbor.

Firstly, it’s important to differentiate between a single-site solar project such as this, and what’s generally understood to be the definition of a solar park.

Solar parks are areas that have been dedicated to solar production, with grid connections in place, where an assortment of business or government interests are able to set up their own, independent solar projects, while taking advantage of shared infrastructure.

Single-site solar projects are just that – one project covering the entire site, and this is why the title of world’s largest single-site solar project is justified, even though there are a number of solar parks that are larger in India and China. That being said, many observers get bogged down in the finer details of solar energy, from scale to measures of output and capacity. The important thing here is simply that it’s big – 3.2 million solar panels – and it has a huge output. That has to be good news no matter how you slice it up.