Dewa picks Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power as preferred bidder for desalination plant

By 2030, the Dubai utility aims to produce all its desalinated water through a mix of clean energy and waste heat

The Hassyan plant is Dewa's first project to be built under the independent water producer model. Photo: Dewa
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Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has picked Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power as preferred bidder to develop and operate the first phase of its seawater reverse osmosis plant at Hassyan.

The Riyadh-based utility has made a bid to invest about $914 million in the project, which has a capacity of more than 180 million imperial gallons a day (818.2 million litres a day), Dewa said on Wednesday.

It is Dewa's first project to be built under the independent water producer model.

“We are building water production plants based on seawater reverse osmosis technology which require less energy than multi-stage flash distillation plants, making it a more sustainable choice for water desalination,” said Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa.

“By 2030, Dewa aims to produce 100 per cent of desalinated water by a mix of clean energy and waste heat,” he said.

Dewa said it achieved a record by receiving the lowest bid of $0.36536 per cubic metre of desalinated water.

The UAE depends heavily on desalination to supply water for drinking and industrial purposes.

Up to 42 per cent of the Emirates’ potable water comes from about 70 major desalination plants. These account for about 14 per cent of the world's total production of desalinated water, government data shows.

The Jebel Ali power station is one of the major desalination centres in the UAE.

Others include the Shuweihat S2 power and water plant in Abu Dhabi, the F2 plant in Fujairah and the $797 million Naqa’a plant in Umm Al Quwain.

The UAE also launched the Water Security Strategy 2036 in 2017, aimed at reducing total demand on water resources by 21 per cent, increasing the reuse of treated water to 95 per cent and developing a storage capacity for more than 45 days in extreme emergencies.

Following the completion of the project in 2026, Dubai’s desalination capacity will increase to 670 million imperial gallons a day, from 490 million currently, Dewa said.

In December, Dewa received 29 expressions of interest from international developers to implement the project.

This week, Dewa selected Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company Masdar to build and operate the 1,800-megawatt sixth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the world's largest single-site solar park.

Dubai has earmarked Dh40 billion ($10.9 billion) for investments in electricity and water projects over the next five years, which will focus on renewables, clean energy, electricity and water transmission and distribution networks to meet growing demand in the emirate.

Acwa Power, backed by the Public Investment Fund, operates in 12 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and South-East Asia.

The company's portfolio comprises 77 projects in operation, advanced development or construction with an investment value of $78.2 billion and the capacity to generate 50.4 gigawatts of power and manage 6.8 million cubic metres of desalinated water a day.

Acwa Power has been boosting its investments to expand its portfolio globally.

Last month, it signed a preliminary agreement with Egypt's New and Renewable Energy Authority to allocate land for a 10-gigawatt wind project there.

Updated: August 16, 2023, 9:41 AM