EWEC and ACWA secure Dh3.19 billion for Abu Dhabi desalination plant

Facility in Al Taweelah will be the biggest reverse osmosis plant in the world when complete in 2022

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Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) and Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power secured Dh3.19 billion in funding for a reverse osmosis water desalination plant project in Abu Dhabi.

The funding is a combination of loans totalling Dh2.71bn as well as equity contributions from shareholders and operating cash flow from pre-operations, the companies said in a statement on Saturday. The new  plant will be located in Al Taweelah power and water desalination complex in the capital and is expected to be completed by 2022.

"Our financial targets have been met and … this new initiative can now get under way," Othman Al Ali, chief executive of EWEC, said.

Efforts to ensure reliable sources of water amid an explosive growth in population and increasing concerns of water scarcity have prompted governments to consider turning seawater into potable, drinking water to resolve the problem. Arabian Gulf states, which account for much of the desalination projects worldwide, have been switching to the membrane-based reverse osmosis method of desalination, which is less energy intensive.

Reverse osmosis is a process in which water flows through a membrane that separates out heavier sediments and salts. Desired minerals like calcium and magnesium are then added to the filtered water before packaging or transporting it for consumption.

Local and international banks including Emirates NBD, Natixis, Mizuho Bank, Siemens Bank, Bank Boubyan and The Norinchukin Bank provided the loans to finance the water desalination plant project in Al Taweelah.

The plant will supply 909,200 cubic metres per day, enough to meet water demand from more than 350,000 households, according to the statement.

The plant is set to be 44 per cent larger than the world's current largest reverse osmosis plant of 624,000 cubic metres per day, the companies said.

A partnership of Abu Dhabi Power Corporation and Mubadala Investment Company holds a 60 per cent equity interest in the Al Taweelah project with the remaining 40 per cent held by ACWA Power.

EWEC is a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Power Corporation.