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Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Al Nowais eyes desalination + green hydrogen investments

UAE’s Al Nowais is looking to invest in desalination and green hydrogen projects in Egypt, Chairman Hussain Al Nowais tells Bloomberg Asharq. Al Nowais did not provide details on the capacity of the projects, the expected investment values, or the anticipated timeline for these ventures.

Where do things stand at present? The firm is waiting on the Egyptian government to launch tenders for desalination plants and has “signaled its interest” in investing in these projects, Al Nowais said. On the green hydrogen front, Nowais is putting together a consortium with Japanese, Italian, and German firms to invest in green ammonia production, which can be used as a carbon-neutral fuel for aircraft.

Desalination + a green hydrogen debut are both big on Egypt’s agenda, especially ahead of next year’s COP27 summit in Sharm El Sheikh, with the government seeking private sector funding for a host of new green projects. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt is looking to build and run 17 new desalination plants at an aggregate cost of about USD 2.5 bn, as part of its larger plans to tackle water security. Our very first green hydrogen plant in Ain Sokhna is also set for construction next year, with plans to showcase it at the summit.

The company is a new anchor investor in Egypt’s renewables industry: Al Nowais is currently constructing a 500 MW solar plant in Kom Ombo and a 500 MW wind project in Ras Ghareb, with plans to complete the two projects within 2-3 years at a cost of USD 1 bn.

But the solar project has run into problems: This comes a couple of months after the company asked to delay the solar plant project, extending its fundraising period to June 2022, as a result of inflationary pressures. Earlier reports claimed that the firm could even sell the plant. The company had also planned to build a USD 4 bn “clean coal” power station in Oyoun Moussa, but the project was scrapped due to its high cost, our electricity surplus, and the government’s shift towards renewables.

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