EWEC and ACWA sign US$890mn deal for reverse osmosis desalination project

ewecEmirates Water Electricity Company (EWEC) and ACWA Power finalised US$890mn deal for the world's largest reverse osmosis desalination project

EWEC, a company in the coordination of planning, purchasing and supply of water and electricity across the UAE, has signed a water purchase agreement, with ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabia-based developer, investor and operator of power generation and desalinated water plants.

The deal will enable the development of over 900,000 cubic meters per day desalination facility in Taweelah – sufficient to meet the demand of water for over 350,000 households. Approximately 45 km north of Abu Dhabi, the project will use reverse osmosis technology to desalinate seawater and will be one of the largest, most cost and energy-efficient plants in the world, according to the statement.

The new Taweelah reverse osmosis desalination plant sets new benchmarks for its size, efficiency and cost of water produced. Supplying 909,200 m3/day, it will be 44 per cent larger than the world's current largest reverse osmosis plant of 624,000 m3/day. A major driver for the adoption of reverse osmosis instead of thermal desalination is the higher energy efficiency it offers.

It is said that this plant redefines efficiency benchmarks with record low energy consumption of less than 3kWh per cubic meter. The contribution from around 50 MW of onsite solar generation will further boost the plants green credentials.

Othman Al Ali, CEO of EWEC, said, “We are delighted to launch this new initiative, which will help meet future water demand for the UAE. The choice of reverse osmosis seawater desalination technology will play a critical part in significantly reducing water production costs, contributing to our goals to build a more sustainable and efficient water and energy sector in the UAE.”

The plant will be developed on a build, own and operate basis with the engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the water plant undertaken by a joint venture of ABENGOA and PowerChina. ACWA Power owns a 40 per cent stake in the project company formed “Independent Water Producers” to be responsible for the RO plant. The remaining 60 per cent stake is owned by Mubadala Investments Company and Abu Dhabi Power Corporation. Once the project is complete, EWEC will be the off-taker for the water output produced by the project over a 30-year period.

The plant is scheduled to commence full commercial operations in Q4 2022.

“Our decision to bid for the Taweelah RO plant project demonstrates our confidence in EWEC as a reliable partner and confirms our commitment to contribute to the development of the United Arab Emirates by increasing our participation in the power generation and water desalination sectors,” Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power, said.

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