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11 Mar 2024

Mansour bin Zayed Officially Inaugurates ‘Naqaa’ Plant; States: "An Achievement Confirming Leadership's Commitment to Sustainability and Well-Being for Our People"

  • Minister of Energy and Infrastructure: We Appreciate Leadership Support... And Value the Efforts of EtihadWE in Sustaining the Water Sector and Reducing the Environmental Impact of Its Operations
  • CEO: We Take Pride in Our Role in Combating Water Scarcity Through Collaborative Ties with Our Strategic Partners in the Sector
His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, and chairman of the Presidential Court, officially inaugurated the "Naqaa" desalination plant in Umm Al Quwain, one of the largest reverse osmosis desalination projects in the world. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Etihad Water and Electricity (EtihadWE), Engineer Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, CEO of EtihadWE, and a number of senior officials.

His Highness received a detailed briefing from the EtihadWE's CEO and the project team on the plant's operational mechanism and its stages of implementation. The first phase was completed, and the plant was experimentally opened with a daily production capacity of 50 million gallons in the second half of 2021, while the second phase was completed and the plant began operating at its full production capacity of 150 million gallons per day by the end of 2022. This massive project was implemented in partnership between Etihad Water and Electricity, Mubadala Investment Company, and ACWA Power from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

​Commenting on this event, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed said, "We are proud of the accomplishment of the Naqaa desalination plant project, which embodies the vision of the UAE and its leadership's path in ensuring sustainable water resources for future generations. This significant project represents an important step towards enhancing our ability to face future challenges in the water sector and affirms the UAE's proactive approach in planning for a sustainable future."

His Highness added, "With the UAE leaders' focus on water security and their diligent efforts in addressing urgent water sector issues, as clearly demonstrated by the recent initiative of His Highness the President to combat water scarcity, the inauguration of the Naqaa plant reaffirms the UAE's steadfast commitment to realising tangible steps on the ground that support these directions. It also emphasizes the leadership's commitment to achieving sustainability and well-being for our people."

During the plant's opening, His Highness praised the national competencies of Emiratis, emphasizing the importance of continuing to develop national capabilities in all vital sectors, particularly the water sector, and the necessity to support efforts in research, development, and innovation in the field.

His Excellency Suhail Al Mazrouei expressed his deep appreciation for the wise leadership, which has provided unlimited support for water infrastructure development projects, thereby providing the necessary foundations for significant achievements in this sector that contribute to enhancing the UAE's status and achieving the well-being of its citizens.

His Excellency added, "With its massive production capacity of approximately 50 billion gallons annually, the Naqaa plant represents a strong addition to the UAE's water sector infrastructure. It serves as a major source in this sector, sufficient to meet the needs of about 2 million residents in the northern regions of the country." He confirmed that the new plant not only enhances the UAE's water security but also supports the achievement of national strategies towards comprehensive sustainability.

His Excellency, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, commended the ongoing efforts of Etihad Water and Electricity in supporting national water sector targets and reducing the carbon footprint, as well as enhancing national efforts to combat climate change. This commitment is evidenced by the company's adherence to applying the latest environmentally friendly technologies in designing and executing its projects, such as the Naqaa plant, which relies on advanced technologies serving as a model for the national direction towards innovation and efficiency.

Engineer Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, CEO of Etihad Water and Electricity, stated that the Naqaa plant is one of the most strategic projects that EtihadWE is proud to have accomplished and recently brought into full operational capacity.

Over approximately 13 years, the company worked within a long-term methodical plan, including ambitious targets for gradually phasing out less efficient thermal technologies, reducing the carbon footprint by 75%, and achieving an acceptable balance between efficiency, cost, and environmental preservation standards. Within this plan, the company executed several high-efficiency plants, such as Al Zawrah plant in Ajman and Ghalila plant in Ras Al Khaimah. With the operationalization of the Naqaa plant, the complete transition to high-efficiency reverse osmosis technology was accomplished.

Al Ali affirmed that the Naqaa plant would play a significant role in realising the wise leadership's vision concerning water security in the UAE and achieving the supreme targets of its strategy for 2036. He expressed pride in the role that Etihad Water and Electricity plays in this sector through strategic partnerships with various parties involved in realising this ambitious national vision, with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure being a prime partner.

Naqaa: A Strategic Water Security Project
Launched following the announcement of the National Water Security Strategy in 2017, the Naqaa plant represents one of the most significant strategic projects that embody the leadership's vision regarding achieving water security in the UAE. This is due to its role in sustaining fresh water supplies and reducing the water scarcity index. The primary declared goal of establishing the plant was to meet the growing demand for water supplies in the northern regions of the country where Etihad Water and Electricity provides its services, supporting various consumer sectors in those areas and promoting economic growth.

Innovative Production and Operation Technologies
The Naqaa plant relies on alternative and innovative technologies aimed at reducing the energy consumption rates in operation. Key among these technologies is the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), which allows for controlling the motors as per the operational needs, and the Pressure Exchanger (PX) technology, which converts energy from the brine water to the feed water for the membranes. These innovative technologies have reduced the rates of electrical energy consumed in operating the plant by up to 60%.

Supportive Infrastructure Enhancements
Concurrent with the establishment and implementation of the Naqaa plant, a suite of water sector projects was initiated to support its outputs and accommodate its production. This included projects to increase water storage capacity, notably Al Khuraija Distribution Centre with a storage capacity of up to 180 million gallons, as well as pumping stations and several transmission and distribution networks.

Comprehensive Production Management System
The produced water from the plant is managed through an integrated system for controlling flows and pressures, starting from the main pumping stations, through the transmission lines, to strategic storage centres, then to distribution networks, and finally reaching the end consumer.
The plant's production undergoes a comprehensive distribution programme that encompasses all areas served by Etihad Water and Electricity. The distribution mechanism under this programme is based on several factors that determine the allocated quantity for each area, such as demand volume and the results of studies and analysis of future demand forecasts.

Stringent Quality Assurance Measures
Etihad Water and Electricity is committed to applying stringent standard procedures to ensure the quality of the water produced from the plant and distributed to consumers, in compliance with national requirements and the drinking water specifications and standards issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). This includes periodic sterilization of lines and tanks, as well as regular and random quality testing.

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