x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Taqa sees growth and eyes Iraq expansion

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co plans to start construction of a 500 megawatt power plant on the outskirts of Iraq's capital Baghdad this year.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co plans to start construction of a 500 megawatt power plant on the outskirts of Iraq's capital Baghdad this year, the company's chief executive told Reuters on Thursday. Taqa which is 75 per cent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, and is one of the vehicles the emirate uses to invest oil money, is also expecting strong third quarter growth in 2009, close to levels seen during the same period last year, Peter Barker-Homek said in an interview.

"Quarter-on-quarter you'll see a growth in income, and I expect 2010 to be good, maybe getting us back to levels very close to 2008," said Mr Barker-Homek. The company expects growth levels to pick up by 2010 following the global financial crisis which has curbed spending on new projects. Taqa planned to spend an initial US$250 million (Dh918m) in Iraq over the coming months and more investment would follow as security improved, he said.

"We have a plan to go into Iraq every other week, we've been working with the government of Baghdad and looking where the power grid needs reinforcement," said Mr Barker-Homek. Taqa is also looking at developing hot and cold water plants in industrial parks around Baghdad with an Abu Dhabi based firm. "We are also working with developers around commercial and industrial parks. Our first project... is a behind-the-fence power plant just on the outskirts of Baghdad and it will be 500 megawatts," he said. The company would formally announce the plans in the fourth quarter.

Years of war and sanctions have hobbled Iraq's infrastructure and delayed projects including the expansion of power plants and developing the oil industry. Iraqis say the country's faltering electricity system is one of their main sources of frustration. Many parts of Iraq have just a few hours of electricity per day. The design capacity of the country's power plants is 11,000 megawatts but they are running at about half that level.

As an alternative to oil and gas, Taqa is looking at generating energy from on and offshore wind farms in UAE, said Mr Barker-Homek. "Around the green agenda we are focused on wind development so we are in discussions with the leaders in offshore and onshore wind farms to become one of the major producers of wind energy in the world." *Reuters