In 1997, Abu Dhabis then Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan issued a decree permitting the partial privatisation of the water and electricity sectors. It changed the way the country approached utility projects and accelerated power and water development around the emirates.
The first facility built under the new law was the Tawleelah A2 independent water and power project (IWPP). It is owned and operated by Emirates CMS Power Company. The government has a 60 per cent stake in the project company. The development contract was signed in late 1998, with construction beginning the following year.
The 710MW, 50-million-imperial-gallon-a-day plant cost an estimated $750m. It houses three Siemens gas turbines and was commissioned in October 2001. The facility uses multi-stage flash technology to desalinate seawater.
Since then the independent producer model for power and water projects has become the norm in Abu Dhabi. As of late 2016, Abu Dhabi had procured just over 16,600MW of capacity from the private power market and had attracted an estimated $19.5bn of investment.
Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority is the client for all private power and water projects, while Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company is the offtaker.