PIF's increased stake in Acwa Power has not impacted capex plans for this year, according to its chief executive, Paddy Padmanathan. Victor Besa/ The National
PIF's increased stake in Acwa Power has not impacted capex plans for this year, according to its chief executive, Paddy Padmanathan. Victor Besa/ The National

Exclusive: Acwa Power eyes $4bn worth of projects for the second half

Riyadh-based utilities developer Acwa Power, which counts Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund as a stakeholder, is looking to bid on around $4 billion worth of projects for the rest of 2018, its chief executive said.

"We submitted the lowest tender for an Egyptian PV [photovoltaic] plant, [and] the lowest bid for the desalination plant Rabigh 3 in Saudi Arabia. Before the end of this year, we have half a dozen tenders going," Paddy Padmanathan told The National.

Acwa Power, a leading developer of renewable projects in the Middle East and North Africa, is 25 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia's  Public Investment Fund. The sovereign wealth fund increased its stake in the developer last month, an indication that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is increasingly pivoting towards cleaner energy. PIF has also built a five per cent stake in electric vehicles manufacturer Tesla.

Acwa Power signed a memorandum of understanding last week to form an $8bn joint venture with partner Saudi Aramco as well as US-based Air Products to develop gasification facilities in the Jazan Economic City on the Red Sea coast.

Mr Padmanathan declined to comment on Acwa Power’s stake in the joint venture saying it had “not yet been defined”. Air Products has the majority 55 per cent stake in the project. Mr Padmanathan also declined to comment on the timeline for completion of the joint venture.

PIF’s increased stake in the developer has not had an impact on the firm’s capital expenditure plans for the current year, said Mr Padmanathan.

“We have a very strong shareholder increasing their participation, so we have become an even stronger company," he said. "We already had the capacity to take on large projects as we’ve been demonstrating over the last decade, so it just strengthens our capacity to continue to grow."


Read more:

Saudi Aramco forms $8bn joint venture with Acwa and Air Products

Acwa to co-invest in South Africa as Ramaphosa gets $10bn in Saudi investment pledge


Acwa Power, which won Saudi Arabia's first renewable project, the 300 Megawatt PV project at Sakaka in the northern Al Jouf area, is currently one of the shortlisted bidders for the kingdom's first ever wind project.

The developer alongside France's EDF Energies Nouvelles, Italy's Enel Green Power and France's Engie are the four companies that bid on the planned $500 million scheme to develop a 400MW wind farm in Dumat Al Jandal.

Saudi Arabia is ramping up efforts to develop its renewables programme, with an estimated 4GW worth of tenders to be launched this year, as it looks to free up more oil for export.

However, only two tenders have so far been issued by the newly established Renewable Energy Project Development Office  (Repdo).

Mr Padmanathan said he expected tenders to come through, even though the market had not been briefed on specific timelines.

“Things have taken a little bit longer than anticipated but now that everything is moving, I expect everything to progress step by step now according to the original pace of activity,” he said.

Acwa Power last month signed an agreement with South Africa's Central Energy Fund to co-invest in a 100MW concentrated solar power project in the country's North Cape province.

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