Ewec invites companies to submit expression of interest for Abu Dhabi’s new solar project

Al Ajban plant will generate enough electricity to power about 160,000 homes across the UAE

Al Dhafra Solar Plant. WAM
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Emirates Water and Electricity Company, better known as Ewec, is inviting companies to submit an expression of interest (EOI) for a new solar project in the Al Ajban area of Abu Dhabi as the UAE continues to focus on renewable projects to cut emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050.

The total power generating capacity of the project, which will be one of the largest in the world, will be 1,500 megawatts, Ewec said on Tuesday.

The project will generate enough electricity for about 160,000 homes across the UAE while helping to reduce Abu Dhabi’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes a year.

“Our strategic investments in solar power have seen us develop Noor Abu Dhabi, the current world’s largest single-site solar power plant, and Al Dhafra Solar PV, which will be the … world’s largest single-site solar power plant, once commercially operational,” Ewec chief executive Othman Al Ali said.

“With Al Ajban Solar PV, which will be similar in size and capacity output to Al Dhafra Solar PV, Abu Dhabi and the UAE will have the three largest, world-leading solar power plants, increasing the diversification of our energy production portfolio and significantly advancing decarbonisation of the energy sector.”

“The successful developer or developer consortium will own up to 40 per cent of the entity while the remaining equity will be held indirectly by the Abu Dhabi government,” Ewec said.

Ewec is inviting developers to submit their EOIs by May 27. After a review of the EOIs, it will issue a request for qualifications to proceed to the next stage.

The project involves the development, financing, construction, operation, maintenance and ownership of the plant and associated infrastructure.

“With Al Dhafra PV, we had one of the most competitive tariffs in the world [4.97 fils per kilowatt hour, or 1.35 US cents/kWh] and we are hopeful we will repeat some of the tariffs,” Andy Biffen, Ewec's asset development executive director, told The National on the sidelines of the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

The UAE, Opec's third-largest oil producer, aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. The country has Dh600 billion ($163.5bn) worth of clean and renewable energy investments planned over the next three decades.

Abu Dhabi, which accounts for the bulk of the UAE's oil production, is building a 2-gigawatt solar plant at Al Dhafra, the world’s largest, while Dubai is building the world’s largest solar energy park to reduce its reliance on natural gas and diversify its power sources.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park is expected to generate 5,000MW of electricity by 2030 and drive up to Dh50bn in investment.

Updated: May 10, 2022, 1:30 PM