Abu Dhabi’s Taqa developing a green finance framework and plans to issue more bonds

Since its deal with Masdar, the utility is focusing more on core operations, group chief executive Jasim Thabet says

Taqa chief executive Jasim Thabet says the company intends to tap into the best available funding available in the market. Courtesy: Taqa
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Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, better known as Taqa, is developing a green finance framework and plans to issue more green bonds this year if market conditions are right, the company’s chief executive has said.

“It's our intention to tap into the best available funding available in the market to increase returns for our shareholders and give us an edge for growth,” Jasim Thabet, Taqa's group chief executive and managing director, told The National in an interview on Thursday.

Last year, Taqa, together with Emirates Water and Electricity Company, raised $700.8 million through its first green bond.

The issuance of green bonds in the Middle East grew by 38 per cent between 2016 and 2020, and in 2020, Middle Eastern governments drove 97 per cent of green bond issuances, compared with 13 per cent four years earlier, the Boston Consulting Group said.

In December, Taqa acquired a 43 per cent controlling stake in Masdar’s renewables business, with Mubadala retaining a 33 per cent interest and Adnoc owning the remaining 24 per cent.

With the Masdar acquisition, Taqa will not directly invest in or acquire any additional renewable energy assets in the future, Mr Thabet said.

"We will not be investing ourselves as Taqa ... it would be through the partnership we have with Masdar," he said.

"We will be focusing more on high-efficient gas-fired power plants, more efficient seawater reverse osmosis desalination and also growing our transmission and distribution business."

Taqa is one of the largest integrated utilities in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, with operations across 11 countries.

It has significant investments in water desalination and power generation, transmission and distribution assets, as well as upstream and midstream oil and gas operations.

Last year, Taqa said it would sell its upstream oil and gas assets in the Netherlands to Waldorf Energy following a year-long strategic review.

Taqa, which is awaiting regulatory approval for the sale of its Dutch assets, plans to run its existing oil and gas operations in an “efficient” way while maintaining production levels, Mr Thabet said.

However, the company’s output from its offshore assets in the UK’s North Sea will gradually decrease, he said.

“These are late-life assets and [we] commenced decommissioning [these operations] three to four years ago,” said Mr Thabet.

“We will be a responsible investor by making sure that we do the decommissioning in a safe and sustainable way.”

Taqa’s net profit from its oil and gas unit more than doubled to Dh4.7 billion in 2022, compared with the previous year, amid high energy prices.

The company has also forayed into the electric vehicles business.

Last month, Adnoc Distribution and Taqa formed a joint venture to build and operate EV infrastructure in Abu Dhabi.

The new company, E2GO, aims to become the principal provider of EV charging points and associated infrastructure across the UAE capital.

The move is a part of Taqa’s environmental, social and governance goals, Mr Thabet said.

“We're now waiting to finalise and set up the company and take it from there really. That's work in progress,” he said.

“EV adoption is increasing as car manufacturers and battery manufacturers increase their range … it's important that we have the infrastructure to support the increasing penetration of EVs in Abu Dhabi.”

EVs are projected to account for half of global car sales by 2035 and hit about 73 million units by 2040, from two million in 2020, according to a Goldman Sachs study.

While the Ukraine war has increased the “appetite” for energy transition, there is an emphasis on energy security too, Mr Thabet said.

“There's a balance. It's not an on-off switch where you can just turn it off and say I'm not going to use gas-fired power plants,” he said.

The UAE, which will host the Cop28 climate summit later this year, is “well placed” to showcase the world how an energy transition can be achieved, Mr Thabet said.

Updated: March 19, 2023, 1:36 PM