Taqa, Engie and Ewec close on $620m funding for Abu Dhabi desalination plant

The Mirfa 2 Reverse Osmosis project is expected to be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2025

Ewec aims to reduce carbon emissions linked to water desalination. Sarah Dea / The National
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A Dh2.3 billion ($620 million) desalination plant jointly owned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, better known as Taqa, and France’s Engie has reached financial closing.

In February, Emirates Water and Electricity Company awarded the contract to develop the plant to Taqa and Engie.

The Mirfa 2 Reverse Osmosis project is primarily funded through debt financing from local and international banks, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Taqa is proud to invest in the development, ownership and operation of this critical water project in Abu Dhabi, which will contribute to the UAE’s decarbonisation efforts as well as Taqa’s own emissions reductions targets,” said Farid Al Awlaqi, Taqa's executive director of generation.

“Critically, this project also sees Taqa continuing to expand on its O&M [operations and maintenance] capabilities, which is a core part of our strategic growth ambition for 2030.”

Reverse osmosis is a membrane-based method of desalination that uses less energy than the thermal process of producing fresh water. The method helps to lower the energy intensity of an industry that takes up a significant share of regional power consumption.

The project, which is expected to become fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2025, will use low-carbon technology to produce up to 550,000 cubic metres of potable water a day.

It will be 60 per cent owned by Taqa, while the remaining 40 per cent will be held by French utility company Engie. Ewec will procure the water supplied from the plant for 30 years.

“Mirfa 2 RO is Ewec’s fifth low-carbon intensive RO desalination project to date and will be the third largest RO plant in the UAE once fully operational,” said Othman Al Ali, chief executive of Ewec.

“Creating a pipeline of RO projects that attract investment in the sector is an integral part of Ewec’s strategic initiative to decouple water and power generation.”

Ewec expects more than 90 per cent of its water production to be from RO technology by 2030, resulting in an 88 per cent reduction in carbon emissions, Mr Al Ali said.

The UAE, Opec's third-largest oil producer, aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and is focusing on the development of clean energy projects.

The country has Dh600 billion ($163.3 billion) worth of clean and renewable energy investments planned over the next three decades.

“With a global target to achieve net zero by 2045, Engie continues to explore ways to decarbonise our current operations,” said Frederic Claux, managing director, flexible generation and retail AMEA, Engie.

“We … look forward to commencing build and ultimately operations.”

Updated: May 31, 2023, 8:38 AM