Abu Dhabi’s Masdar eyes expansion in Israel, South East Asia

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based clean energy company, is looking to expand into a range of countries in South-East Asia, Central Asia and Israel with new renewable projects.

The company is looking at starting new projects in Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines in South-East Asia. It sees potential for growth in Uzbekistan in Central Asia.

“We will continue to operate in our conventional markets in the Middle East and [look for opportunities] in new markets in Asia led by Indonesia and also the Central Asian market,” Yousif Al Ali, executive director of clean energy at Masdar, said during a virtual press conference.

Specifically, the firm is optimistic about new prospects in Indonesia, the largest economy in South-East Asia.

Earlier this month, it announced a joint venture with a subsidiary of Indonesia’s electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara to develop the 145-megawatt floating photovoltaic power plant in Cirata reservoir in West Java with a total investment of $100 million. The project was announced at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2020.

“We would like to continue exploring more projects with our local partner whether in the West Java area or other remote areas as well,” Aysha Al Aydaroos, head of business support for clean energy at Masdar, said. “We have the capability of working in small to medium-sized projects in remote locations, even in areas that have no access to electricity.”

The company already “had discussions on the ground” in a number of countries in South-East Asia, she added. “We spoke to the relevant ministry of energy, [are] looking at potential auctions that are going to be in the pipeline or creating opportunities from scratch.”

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Masdar, which is wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Company, more than doubled its renewable energy capacity to 10.7 gigawatts this year, she said.

Opportunities in Israel

Following the normalization of relations between Tel Aviv and the UAE earlier this year, the company is also eyeing new investment opportunities in Israel. In order to start new ventures, Masdar is looking at potential partnerships in the country with either a local company or an international firm.

“Our ultimate goal is to participate in an auction that will be announced by the government,” Mr Al Ali, said. “In the next auction in the country, Masdar will be there. It is an important market and will dedicate all efforts to have a presence in the market.”

Since normalizing relations in September, the UAE and Israel have forged a number of pacts to promote collaboration in sectors ranging from aviation to finance.

Global expansion

Masdar also signed a power purchase agreement with the Government of Uzbekistan in June to plan, finance, develop and operate a 500-megawatt wind project on a utility scale. In the Central Asian Republic, the company aims to expand further.

Masdar currently operates in more than 30 countries including the UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the US. It is also active in Europe, the UK and Australia. Earlier this year, Masdar widened its footprint in the US after acquiring stakes in eight projects being developed by EDF Renewables North America.

“We hope we will be able to continue the same approach and expand our capacity in the next two to five years. We are in over 30 countries and have the right base in doubling the capacity,” Mr Al Ali said.

A consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) and Masdar, in partnership with France’s EDF and JinkoPower, are developing the world’s largest solar power plant in Abu Dhabi with a total capacity of 2 gigawatts.