Saudi-based Acwa Power, in co-ordination with Natixis, has announced that its key project Taweelah IWP, the largest reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world coming up at Abu Dhabi, has obtained the first-ever 'sustainable loan' qualification for a water desalination project globally.
Acwa Power is the lead developer and operator of the project and a 40 per cent shareholder, with the remaining 60 per cent contributed by the Government of Abu Dhabi through Abu Dhabi Power Corporation and Mubadala Development Company.
Natixis acted as initial mandated lead arranger, documentation bank, hedge provider, global facility agent and sustainable loan coordinator.
It also is the sole arranger and investment agent under the Islamic Equity Bridge Loan for Acwa Power’s equity portion.
According to Acwa, Taweelah IWP got the “sustainable loan” qualification as the project finance loan is aligned with the four components of both the Green Loan Principles and the Social Bond Principles.
Closed in September last year, this $758 million project finance loan, with a contractual tenor of 32.4 years, will finance what will become the largest reverse osmosis plant in the world when completed in 2022.
Vigeo Eiris, which provided an independent second party opinion on the sustainability credentials and management of this project finance loan, confirmed that it is aligned with the four components of both the Green Loan Principles (published by the LMA in 2018) and the Social Bond Principles (published by the ICMA in 2018, and used in this case in the absence of published Social Loan Principles).
According to Acwa, this project finance loan is dedicated to the financing of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a state-of-the-art, 200 million imperial gallons per day reserve osmosis plant and associated infrastructure and facilities.
President and CEO Paddy Padmanathan said: "Acwa Power places huge value in receiving this independent validation by a reputable assessor, as this qualification accentuates our unwavering dedication to the sustainable growth and development of countries in the region."
"Taweelah IWP is a strategic project for us, that is revolutionizing the industry by setting new standards for sustainable desalination, tackling industry challenges and pioneering new achievements through cutting edge technologies," he stated.
Rajit Nanda, CIO pf Acwa Power, said: "Vigeo’s assessment of Taweelah IWP and its alignment with the Green Loan Principles and social Bonds Principles as well as its contribution to at least 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is a world first in the water sector. We are confident that this qualification will also enhance our reputation in the market while assuring loan providers of the sustainability credentials of the project," he added.
Simon Eedle, the regional head for the Middle East, Corporate & Investment Banking at Natixis pointed out that the massive project and its sustainable features and benefits were a new milestone for the group in the region.
Orith Azoulay, Global Head of Green & Sustainable Finance, Corporate & Investment Banking said: “This sustainable loan demonstrates the bank’s capacity to accompany key regional sponsors in their sustainable journeys to develop strategic and sustainable infrastructures”.
The plant will be constructed at the existing Taweelah complex in Abu Dhabi. The project also includes a 68 MW peak photovoltaic power plant to complement the energy supply from the procurer’s grid.
Emirates Water & Electricity Company (Ewec), a fully-owned entity of Abu Dhabi government and the water and power supplier of the region, is the sole offtaker of the project under a 30-year contract.