UAE Announces Call for Proposals for 400MW BESS Project

Utility EWEC has opened the floor for developers to submit EOI for a significant 400MW battery energy storage system (BESS) project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Utility EWEC (Emirates Water and Electricity Company) has opened the floor for developers to submit expressions of interest (EOI) for a significant 400MW battery energy storage system (BESS) project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The announcement of the EOI process for this greenfield BESS was made this week, on March 7th, by the utility, which primarily operates in Abu Dhabi, the capital Emirate of the UAE. Developers have until March 22nd, 2024, noon local time, to submit their proposals.

According to EWEC, the BESS will play a crucial role in providing flexibility to the system, offering ancillary services such as frequency response and voltage regulation. The utility emphasized that the BESS is integral to its strategy of ramping up solar PV capacity to 7.5GW by 2030, aiming to slash carbon emissions by 42% from 2019 levels by the same year.

Othman Al Ali, CEO of EWEC, underscored the advantages of BESS over traditional grid storage solutions, citing increased flexibility, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and improved efficiency. Al Ali’s statement hints at the comparative advantages of BESS over pumped hydro energy storage (PHES), which is the predominant traditional solution. PHES, while widely used, tends to be slower in reaction time and has a lower round-trip efficiency (RTE).

Notably, the neighboring Emirate of Dubai’s utility, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), is currently constructing a 250MW PHES plant, expected to be operational by 2024.

The scope of the BESS project encompasses development, financing, construction, operation, maintenance, and ownership of the BESS system and associated infrastructure. Following this, EWEC intends to enter into a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for the project’s offtake.

This initiative comes on the heels of EWEC’s recommendation, made a year ago, for the UAE to deploy 300MW/300MWh of BESS capacity by 2026. However, the announcement does not specify the timeline for the 400MW project, leaving it unclear whether this forms part of a broader long-term strategy or if there has been an adjustment in forecasted needs.

As the UAE continues to bolster its renewable energy capacity, such initiatives underline the country’s commitment to sustainable development and its ambition to play a leading role in the global energy transition. Developers and stakeholders alike will keenly watch the progress of the BESS project, considering its potential to reshape the energy landscape of the UAE and beyond.