Taqa to boost renewable portfolio through acquisitions and greenfield projects

Exclusive: Abu Dhabi-listed utility evaluating opportunities in the Mena region and other countries, top executive says

Taqa is bullish about hydrogen as demand for the clean fuel increases amid growing climate change concerns. Victor Besa / The National
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Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, better known as Taqa, will develop greenfield projects and boost its growth in the renewable energy sector through acquisitions, according to the company's executive director of generation.

The Abu Dhabi-listed utility aims to generate more than 30 per cent of its power from clean sources by 2030, compared with 5 per cent currently, Farid Al Awlaqi told The National.

“We are going to pursue organic and inorganic opportunities through greenfield development, through acquisitions ... projects under development or projects in operations, so all options are open,” he said on the sidelines of the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi.

The company will pursue organic and inorganic opportunities in the Mena region and other countries, Mr Al Awlaqi said.

“Our area of strength is where we are present today, which is Mena … following opportunities outside the region is also on the table,” he said. “We are present in several GCC countries. We are also present in North Africa and we are going to continue to grow that.”

Apart from the UAE, Taqa has operations in countries such as Canada, Ghana, India, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US.

Taqa has significant investments in power and water generation, as well as in the oil and gas sector. It plans to invest Dh40 billion ($10.9bn) in infrastructure development as it focuses on its push into renewable energy under its 2030 strategy.

On Thursday, the company reported a 37 per cent surge in its first-quarter profit as revenue grew during the period on the back of higher oil prices.

Net profit attributable to the equity holders for the three-month period to the end of March rose to Dh1.97 billion ($536 million). Revenue during the period jumped 20 per cent to Dh12.4bn.

In the UAE, Taqa's projects include the Taweelah A1, Taweelah A2, Shuweihat S1 and Mirfa International power and water plants.

In the renewables sector, the company holds a 60 per cent stake in the 1.2-gigawatt Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant, the world’s largest single-site solar photovoltaic plant.

Taqa is also developing a 2-gigawatt solar plant in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Masdar, France’s EDF renewables and China’s JinkoPower.

“We have a 30 per cent target in renewables and we already have 5 per cent in place,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.

On Tuesday, Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) announced plans for a 1,500-megawatt solar project in Abu Dhabi's Al Ajban district and this is “going to be feeding towards the ambition of our 30 gigawatts here in the UAE”, he said.

“And, at the same time, we are also pursuing other projects overseas at the moment,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.

Ewec asked companies on Tuesday to submit an expression of interest for the development of Al Ajban solar plant.

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

“[A] lot of the projects, especially on the renewable side, are developed by Ewec but we are entitled to a minimum of 40 per cent stake in those projects,” said Mr Al Awlaqi.

“So, whatever Ewec finally arrives [at] as projected plans in renewables, we will have a guaranteed stake in that.”

Taqa is also teaming up with Emirates Global Aluminium, Dubal Holding and Ewec to further develop solar power capacity in Abu Dhabi.

As part of the deal, Taqa and Dubal Holding plan to acquire EGA’s power-generation assets in the UAE, with each company holding a 50 per cent stake.

The power generated from the assets will be supplied to the grid under a long-term power purchase agreement with Ewec’s load dispatch centre, Taqa said earlier this year.

The Abu Dhabi utility plans to expand its generating capacity in the UAE to 30 gigawatts by 2030, from the current 18 gigawatts, and its global generating capacity by 15 gigawatts as it continues to look for new opportunities.

The company is also developing a water and power project in Saudi Arabia in partnership with Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and Saudi Aramco.

Taqa is optimistic about hydrogen as demand for the clean fuel grows amid mounting climate change concerns.

“Taqa has committed to deliver on the UAE’s strategy on net zero by 2050. Investments in renewable technology is a big step towards that,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.

“At the same time, we are also open to new technologies … so hydrogen is also a very interesting green fuel of the future. There are a lot of bets being made on it, as well as other things. We are investing in all of them, and hydrogen is one of them.”

The company is “well positioned to develop projects in green hydrogen because 60 per cent of the cost of green hydrogen comes from power, and we understand the renewable power side very well”, Mr Al Awlaqi said.

“We have developed the most competitive projects in the world when it comes to renewable energy, so we are in a big position to lend something towards developing green hydrogen as a market.”

Last year, Taqa signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports to develop a 2-gigawatt green ammonia project in the UAE. It also plans to supply Emirates Steel with green hydrogen for steel production.

The company is also set to become a shareholder in Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company Masdar, alongside Adnoc and Mubadala Investment Company.

Upon the completion of the transaction in the coming months, Taqa will take a 43 per cent stake in Masdar’s renewable energy business while Mubadala and Adnoc will retain 33 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.

Taqa will also be taking a 24 per cent stake in Masdar’s green hydrogen business, with Adnoc holding 43 per cent and Mubadala 33 per cent.

Updated: May 12, 2022, 9:29 AM