Masdar looks to invest in renewables and desalination in Israel

Israel and Jordan plan to generate 30 per cent of their energy needs from renewables by 2030

Solar panels on a rooftop in Amman. Jordan will provide solar power to Israel, which will supply desalinated water in turn. AFP
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Abu Dhabi company Masdar is open to a "great spectrum" of opportunities in developing renewable energy projects and water desalination in Israel and Jordan, after the signing of a trilateral agreement on clean energy on Monday.

"I can tell you that Masdar is already active in Israel and we are exploring opportunities to help Israel reach very ambitious targets," said Mohammad El Ramahi, director of asset management and technical services for Masdar's clean energy division.

El Ramahi was speaking at a panel discussion with Israeli and US energy executives at the US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Israel and Jordan, which have a peace treaty, share similar ambitions of raising their share of renewables in their energy mixes to 30 per cent by 2030.

"That is 15 gigawatts, which opens a great horizon for developers like Masdar to compete ... against price and against value creation for the best welfare of the Israeli people and also create opportunities," said Mr El Ramahi.

On Monday, the UAE, Jordan and Israel signed an agreement to develop a renewable energy and desalination plant in Jordan to mitigate climate change and add to the growth of clean energy in the country.

The partners plan to build solar photovoltaic plants that can generate 600 megawatts of electricity in Jordan. The electricity will be exported to Israel, which will supply 200 million cubic metres of water from a new desalination project. Feasibility studies for the project will begin in 2022.

The UAE became the first country in the Arab world to pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Israel also pledged to become carbon neutral by the same year.

"The Abraham Accord not only opens horizons for [the] UAE and Israel, but also for US companies and for Jordanian companies to collaborate and explore opportunities in the spectrum of not just in renewable energy but also in sustainable water desalination," said Mr El Ramahi.

He said the region is considered to be arid, "with water stress issues".

The Abraham Accord was signed last year to normalise relations between the UAE and Israel and open up business opportunities. Bahrain, which has an indigenous Jewish community, also normalised relations with Tel Aviv following the UAE-Israel pact.

Masdar is an early developer of renewables in Jordan. The company made its first overseas investment in a Jordanian wind farm in 2013. It also developed Baynouna, a 200MW single solar energy project located east of the capital Amman, which became operational in 2020.

Jordan and Israel, which are both water-scarce countries, have been working on a plan to direct water from the Red Sea to replenish the fast-depleting Dead Sea.

A 2014 World Bank feasibility study said that if no action was taken, the area near the Dead Sea would suffer from further sinkholes, mudflats and landslides that would affect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, tourism and the chemical industry. The lake’s water level is declining by more than one metre a year.

Updated: November 23, 2021, 1:20 PM