Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government-backed renewable energy company, plans this year to start building a 20-30 MW wind turbine facility and expects to award contracts by the end of the year. It also plans to build a 100 MW photovoltaic plant, to be called Noor, and wants to award construction contracts for this venture also by the end of the year. Masdar already operates a 10 MW solar facility of this type in Abu Dhabi.

“We are evaluating bids from international companies who want to help us build the [wind] plant,” Frank Wouters, director of Masdar Power, said at an industry briefing on 14 January. Wind speeds in the UAE are “moderate but still sufficient” for such turbines, he said.

Abu Dhabi, which holds almost all of the UAE’s oil reserves, is expanding its use of solar and wind power in a effort to become a regional hub for renewable energy. The emirate is building Masdar City, a business and residential complex designed to emit minimal carbon emissions, and serves as headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Mr Wouters said in October that Masdar’s Shams 1 solar plant, a $600m, 100 MW concentrated solar thermal plant to be completed in 2012, will receive less soalr energy than originally hoped because dust particles in the area will block sunlight. The Noor plant will cost less than Shams 1 because of improving efficiency and “the normal learning curve for the industry,” Wouters said. Shams 1 is a joint venture of Masdar, Abengoa SA and Total SA.