White and Case has been selected to handle the procurement and financing of the world’s largest single site solar project in Abu Dhabi. The 2 GW solar PV power plant that will cost US$886 million and is named after Al Dhafra is a “key project in Abu Dhabi’s energy transition” according to White and Case partner and advisory team leader, Michael Watson. Once in full operation, Al Dhafra will be the largest single-site power plant in the world, with the capacity to provide electricity for approximately 160,000 homes across the United Arab Emirates via about 4 million solar panels. The site will result in a reduction of Abu Dhabi’s CO2 emissions by over 2.4 million metric tonnes per annum. This is equal to eliminating about 470,000 cars from the roads.
The Al Dhafra project also has the lowest-ever solar tariff of any solar project, at 1.32 cents per kWh. Using two-sided solar panels, also known as bifacial solar panels, the plant will be able to capture solar energy from the front and back, meaning the plant’s efficiency has been optimized as much as possible. A non-recourse bridge facility has been arranged to finance the project’s construction. A long-term capital markets project bond issuance will be used to repay the loan. This ‘bridge-to-bond’ structure signifies the formation of a new green asset-class model, designed to draw in high-quality investors, in turn driving the finance of Abu Dhabi’s renewable growth plans. In addition, the way the financing has been arranged is intended to reduce the cost of debt and minimize transaction timelines and the many uncertainties that may be encountered in future solar PV projects.
The plant will deploy the latest in crystalline, bifacial solar technology, which will deliver electricity to the highest efficiency enabling the plant to provide more power by using both the front and backside of the panel.