EWEC and ACWA sign deal for $890m Taweelah desalination plant

Plant is expected to be 44% larger than the world’s current largest reverse osmosis plant, which has a capacity of 624,000cu/m of water per day

Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) has inked a water purchase agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power for what’s billed as the world’s largest reverse osmosis (RO) desalination projects. The $890 million deal will enable the development of a desalination facility in Taweelah, which boasts a capacity of more than 900,000cu/m of water per day.

The project is expected to take shape 45km north of Abu Dhabi city and will meet the water demands for over 350,000 households. The plant will use reverse osmosis technology to desalinate seawater and will be one of the largest, most cost- and energy-efficient plants in the world, the statement said.

According to EWEC, a major driver for the adoption of reverse osmosis versus thermal desalination is the higher energy efficiency it offers. The new plant is expected to redefine efficiency benchmarks with low energy consumption of less than 3kWh per cu/m. 50MW of onsite solar generation will further boost the plants green credentials.

“We are delighted to launch this new initiative, which will help meet future water demand for the UAE. The choice of Reverse Osmosis sea water 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 project will also help save material fuel costs across the sector, given the flexibility that the technology provides,” said Othman Al Ali, CEO of EWEC.

Once completed, the Taweelah plant will contribute to the UAE’s vision in reducing the carbon dioxide emissions, reducing gas consumption by decoupling power and water production for the winter and summer seasons, ENEC said.

The plant will be developed on a build, own and operate basis, the EPC contract for the plant was awarded to a JV of Abengoa and PowerChina. Acwa Power owns a 40% stake in the ‘Independent Water Producers’ company, which will be responsible for the plant. The remaining 60% 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.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of Acwa Power added, “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. Through the Taweelah RO plant project and the enabling environment provided by Abu Dhabi, we are proud to be setting new global bench marks in both the cost of desalinated water and the energy consumed in producing that water.”

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