Approved Mirfa IWPP offers hope to power-starved emirates

Abu Dhabi has given the go ahead for a new privately built 1500 MW combined-cycle power plant, which once operational will boost exports of electricity to energy-deficit emirates.

The facility, which will be located in Mirfa on a build, own and operate basis, will be an independent water and power plant (IWPP) and will also produce 53 million gallons a day of potable water.

Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), said: “The project will satisfy the increasing demand for electricity, which is rising 11 per cent annually.”

According to Al Nuaimi, the Mirfa IWPP will produce 400 MW in the summer of 2014, with an additional 1000-1200 MW coming on line in the summer of 2015.

He confirmed that the export of electric power would increase from 2000 MW in 2011 to almost 3900 MW in 2015.

Abu Dhabi has a successful and well-established model for attracting private developers to build its power plants. However, the Mirfa IWPP features two very interesting caveats.

Firstly, in addition to the new CCPP, which will generate 1000-1100 MW, the winning developer will also be required to install on site four existing GE open cycle gas turbines, each with a capacity of 100 MW.

Although these machines, which were purchased by the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) back in 2005, have never been used, undoubtedly a major concern for any developer is their condition.

Secondly, Abu Dhabi is insisting that the desalination component utilizes reverse osmosis technology rather than multi-stage flash. The latter has been the technology of choice for previous IWPPs.

MEED believes that interest from bidders will be high, but with the requirements to incorporate existing old equipment and utilize reverse osmosis technology Abu Dhabi may find prices rather higher than anticipated.

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