Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea) has invited expressions of interest (EoIs) to developers to build the emirate’s next independent water and power project (IWPP) at Mirfa.

The winning bidder will take a 40 per cent in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the IWPP which will have a capacity of 1,500MW of power and 53MIGD of water. Adwea will hold a 60 per cent stake in the project.

The project will comprise several parts. The developer will own, develop, finance, construct, operate and maintain a greenfield power plant with a net capacity of 1,100MW together with a 30MIGD reverse osmosis desalination plant.

In addition to the greenfield work, the developer will be responsible for taking over certain existing assets of Mirfa Power Company. It will also install four existing open cycle gas turbines, each with a capacity of about 100MW. Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) purchased the turbines from the US’ GE in February 2005 before they were transported to Mirfa in 2009. The SPV will be responsible for integrating three 7.5MIGD desalination units, which were installed by Italy’s Fisia Italimpianti, into the new plant.

The project will be built at Mirfa, a site located around 120 kilometres from Abu Dhabi. It will be built within Adwea’s existing power and desalination complex. Adwea is responsible for decommissioning and demolishing its existing assets at the Mirfa site. Power from the project will be bought by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company (Adwec) under a long-term power and water purchase agreement. Adwec will supply the project with gas feedstock.

Developers are to submit EoIs by 15 July. They will then be issued with a request for qualification. Statements of qualification will be submitted by 10 September. Most of the power is expected to be commissioned by summer 2015. The schedule is driven by Adwec’s expectation that power demand will increase by 11.3 per cent a year between 2011 and 2015 and by 13.6 per cent a year once electricity exports are included.

The increase will be driven primarily by the anticipated increase in power needs from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and electricity exports to the UAE’s northern emirates, which will together account for two-thirds of demand growth up to 2015. Abu Dhabi’s water needs are also growing and are expected to double between 2011 and 2030.

Before selecting the Mirfa site, Adwea had considered building the project at Taweelah. It also considered a site in the UAE’s northern emirates for its next IWPP. Speaking about the site selection, Adwea director general Abdulla Saif al-Nuaimi said, “The Mirfa site has a number of advantages for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the plants capacity including the strategic location between the high demand areas of Tarif and Liwa, as well as the nitrogen gas plant currently under construction through Adnoc that will require approximately 200MW of power.”

The decision to use reverse osmosis for the desalination component of the project is significant and was driven by the expectation that nuclear power will be introduced to the network from 2018. “The project offers flexibility to Abu Dhabi’s generation and desalination system in the future through the implementation of reverse osmosis technology, particularly when nuclear is expected to come online,” says Al-Nuaimi.

Adwea is advised by the UK’s HSBC and US law firm White & Case for Mirfa IWPP. This is Abu Dhabi’s tenth independent project. Abu Dhabi has eight IWPPs, of which four were assets sales, and one independent power project (IPP) that are currently under construction or in operation.