The Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) has announced that it is considering four bids from companies interested in constructing the new Al Ajban solar plant, a 1.5GW independent power project in the UAE.
The four finalists are Saudi Arabian company ACWA Power, French renewables developer EDF Renewables, Japanese investor the Marubeni Corporation and a consortium led by Solar Module Super League member JinkoSolar and Japanese investor JERA.
EWEC has already announced the terms of the arrangement that will be signed with the successful bidder, which includes shared ownership of the project, with the UAE government owning 60% and the bidder the remaining 40%, and the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement with EWEC.
While the applicants have not disclosed details of their bids to the public, they all boast considerable experience in the global solar sector, which will only help the UAE meet its own solar power goals.
“EWEC’s renewable energy projects are further strengthening the UAE’s position as a global leader and role model in planning and implementing tangible strategic actions to realize long term socio-economic and sustainability objectives,” said Othman Al Ali, EWEC CEO.
“Receiving these competitive bids demonstrates our expertise in commissioning world-leading renewable energy projects that attract internationally renowned companies to collaborate on achieving the UAE’s carbon-neutral future.”
Large-scale solar projects such as this will be integral to meeting the UAE’s clean power goals. In March, EWEC called for the state to increase its solar PV capacity sixfold by 2030, pushing total capacity to 7.3GW, in order to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, and meet a growing power demand that is set to rise by 30% to 2029.
According to the Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy, in 2022, the UAE’s total solar capacity was 18.13TWh, significantly higher than its capacity of 1.98TWh five years earlier, but still significantly lower than the contribution made to its energy mix of natural gas and oil, with 698.48TWh and 607.25TWh of capacity, respectively.
EWEC first announced the Al Ajban project in May last year, and 43 companies submitted expressions of interest in building the project. The company narrowed this group down to a shortlist of 19 companies in January this year, and has now selected four proposals, which will be subjected to what EWEC calls “a detailed technical and commercial evaluation process to select the best proposal.”
EWEC plans to decide on a winning bid by the end of this year, and for the project to come online in 2026.