More than 40 companies have expressed interest in the tender for the development, financing and operation of the water and power complex, which will supply 900,000 cubic metres of fresh water a day
Tenders invited for Abu Dhabi desalination complex
Private companies have been asked to tender for the development and operation of the Taweelah desalination complex and can own up to 40 per cent of the project.
The Taweelah desalination complex will be powered by the electrical grid, the Department of Energy announced.
More than 40 companies have expressed interest in the tender for the development, financing and operation of the water and power complex, which will supply 900,000 cubic metres of fresh water a day. Of these, 25 have been pre-approved by the government.
Taweelah is the first complex that will separate fresh water production and power production. Its two desalination plants will run on reverse osmosis, which does not require integration with a power plant.
Virtually all desalination activities are currently powered by natural gas-fired cogeneration plants.
“Since we are introducing our nuclear reactors into the network we decided to decouple power and water production, which has been historically combined,” said Mohammed Al Falasi, the undersecretary of the Department of Energy. “In this case it will reduce our dependence on burning gas to produce water, especially in the months of winter where we do not need as much power but we need still water.”
Reverse osmosis is less energy intensive than distillation, where water is evaporated.
The complex is expected to cost approximately Dh2 billion and open in 2022. But Mr Al Falasi noted that the project cost and the electricity required to produce fresh water, will be determined by private companies bids.
“The actual cost of the project is not something we can define now,” Mr Al Falasi said.
“We are encouraging competition by allowing the market to be innovative because this is an evolving technology, improving day after day and pricing is improving.”
The power and water complex will be built alongside its namesake power station, about 45km north of Abu Dhabi city. Construction will begin in 2020.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi is served by 11 desalination plants. Of these, four plants, in Delma, Mirfa and Fujairah, use reverse osmosis to produce 580,000 cubic metres of water a day. They account for 13 per cent of the emirate’s desalinated water production.
The Tawaleh plants will increase this to 30 per cent.
Waste water will be treated before it is released. The plant will be less susceptible to algal blooms that have shut desalination plants in the northern emirates, said department officials.
“We have to meet the standards set by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi,” said Aisha Al Mansoori, an engineer in the Department’s privatisation directorate.
Almost all of the water consumed by humans in the UAE comes from desalination plants.
Water consumption in Abu Dhabi has risen at an annual rate of 9.5 per cent and Arab Gulf states account for at least 60 per cent of the world’s desalination capacity.
Demand in Abu Dhabi has more than doubled in the last decade and is expected to triple in the next 12 years, according to research by the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.