Abu Dhabi's Executive Council has given the green light for a large power plant to help meet the growing need for electricity in the capital and the Northern Emirates.
The plant, due to be completed in 2015, will be built in the town of Mirfa in the emiratewith the capacity to generate 1,500 megawatts of electricity and desalinate 53 million gallons of water per day.
"The project is targeted to satisfy the increasing demand for electricity, which escalates annually by 11 per cent, in addition to the commitment of [the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority] to satisfy the requirements of the Northern Emirates," said Abdulla Al Nuaimi, the authority's director general.
The Mirfa project was approved by the Executive Council at its last session, according to a statement released by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea).
Driven by industrial expansion, rising consumption and its role in supplying its northern neighbours with power and water, Abu Dhabi is under pressure to grow the utility sector.
Adwea supplied 2,000MW to the Northern Emirates alone last year, said Mr Al Nuaimi, a commitment that will almost double by 2015.
Abu Dhabi is spending billions of dirhams to improve living standards in the north. Apart from supplying growing amounts of water and power, it has also allocated funds to improve the electricity grid and roads there.
The added requirements from Abu Dhabi's power plantscan already be seen. Generation will soon surpass the 10,000MW mark, which the sector can accommodate comfortably with a capacity of more than 13,000MW.
But by 2015, when Mirfa comes online, Adwea will need to produce nearly 17,000 megawatts to meet peak demand, according to estimates by the Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Company, which buys and distributes the electricity.
By 2020, peak demand is expected to reach almost 25,000MW.
The industrialisation of the emirate will result in increasing numbers of factories and plants connected to the power grid.
Some 200MW of Mirfa's output will be fed to the nearby Elixier nitrogen plant, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Germany's Linde.
In addition to a growing industrial base, subsidised utility bills in Abu Dhabi leave little incentive for households or businesses to restrict consumption.
The Mirfa plant will be the latest power project run as a public-private partnership between Adwea and overseas international power operators.
Under that model, Adwea will retain a 60 per cent stake in the plant through a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, also known as Taqa, while a consortium of power companies will share the remainder.
Those companies will be responsible for constructing and operating the plant.
Some of the power in the new plant will be generated by four General Electric gas turbines, which had originally been purchased by the Federal Electricity and Water Authority for a power plant in Al Ain and handed over to Adwea in 2007.
An existing plant producing about 200MW in Mirfa will be demolished to accommodate the new project.
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