World’s Largest (Gargantuan) Solar Thermal Plant Opens in Saudi Arabia

Saudi, solar, solar thermal, cleantech, Gulf, desert, Princess Noura bint Abdul Rahman University, PNBAR

The world’s largest solar thermal plant – nearly double the size of the original largest in Denmark – is now online in Saudi Arabia, reinforcing the notion that this Gulf country has the potential to maintain its current oil wealth by exporting solar power for the next twenty centuries.

Originally awarded to Jordan’s Millennium Energy Industries in 2010, the $14 million project in Riyadh is the size of 5 football pitches and produces enough energy to heat water for 40,000 students at the Princess Noura bint AbdulRahman University campus in Riyadh.

The largest women-only university in the world (we’re breaking all kinds of records here), the campus has 15 academic faculty buildings, a variety of labs and a 700-bed hospital. All of the water in these facilities will be heated by the gargantuan roof-mounted solar panels. It is the first university in the Kingdom to rely on a district solar water heater.

Millennium Energy, which was responsible for the design and build of the solar thermal plant, subcontracted Greenonetec, an Austrian manufacturer, to supply the GK 3000 series solar collectors, and received solar thermal application expertise from the Austrian company AEE Intec.

These panels have a 95% absorption rate and weigh 170kg. They are 10 by 5 meters large and are especially designed to withstand the desert’s fierce sandstorms.

Other energy saving technology incorporated into the university’s design will result in annual carbon savings of 125 million kilograms, making this by far the most sustainable campus in all of Saudi.

The rooftop system covers a total area of 36,305m² compared to the former largest solar thermal power plant in Denmark, which covers an area of 19,875 m².

After a six month trial period, each one of the six solar fields has been uncovered and six tanks of 150m3 have been built to store excess solar heat at 110°C.

:: Power Technology, Construction Week Online

More Saudi Cleantech:
Saudi Could Export Solar for the Next Twenty Centuries
Saudi to Make Desert Sands into Solar Polysilicon
Could Saudi Become the Saudi Arabia of Solar?

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2 thoughts on “World’s Largest (Gargantuan) Solar Thermal Plant Opens in Saudi Arabia”

  1. Burhan says:

    This is a bit confusing. It is difficult to make out if it is done by PV or by thermal. To imagine a thermal plant is on a roof top is difficult to digest, or are they just some water heaters? Solar

    Thermal plants are huge, can go up to 5000 MW plants. Your report does not tell what the technology really is and how much megawatt electricity does it produce. PV will want batteries and inverters too.

    Wish the report was more elaborate on the technology part of it. If you could do it shall be grateful.

  2. Alan Musnikow says:

    Where the fourth paragraph says, “They are 10 square meters wide by 5 square meters long,” the word “square” is wrong.

    Only area is measured in square meters. Length and width are measured in meters.

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