Saudi's Acwa makes China push with Silk Road Fund, Huawei deals

Public Investment Fund-backed utilities giant signed MoUs during Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's state visit to Beijing

Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power has signed MoUs with China's Silk Road Fund and Huawei [representational image].
© Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures
Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power has signed MoUs with China's Silk Road Fund and Huawei [representational image].

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund-backed Acwa Power, a developer of power and water plants, entered agreements with China’s Silk Road Fund and Huawei on the side-lines of an official trip to Beijing by Crown Prince, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, and Minister of Defence, HRH Mohammed Bin Salman.

Acwa’s memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with both organisations will pave the way for “further investments and […] technological advancements” in the power generation and desalinated water production plants that the Saudi company builds and manages.

The MoU signing ceremony was attended by HRH Mohammed Bin Salman and Vice Premier of the State Council of China, Hang Zheng. Acwa Power’s chairman, Mohammad Abdullah Abunayyan, signed the agreement with Silk Road Fund’s chief executive officer, Wang Yanzhi.

As part of the MoU with Silk Road fund, the Chinese organisation will partner with Acwa to invest in Acwa Power Renewable Energy Holding Ltd’s projects in countries covered by China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative programme, such as South Africa, the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt. Dubai International Financial Centre’s website lists Acwa Power Renewable Energy Holding Ltd as one of its registered companies.

Meanwhile, Acwa Power’s agreement with Huawei will see both companies collaborating to use information and communication technology (ICT) to boost efficiencies, digitise power plant management processes, and improve the performance of solar photovoltaic projects that the Saudi Arabian power company is involved with.

One such development is the $320m (SAR1.2bn) Sakaka PV IPP, the first utility-scale solar plant in Saudi Arabia, which Acwa Power is developing. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, attended the project’s ground-breaking ceremony in November 2018, accompanied by the Crown Prince.

The agreement with Huawei builds on Acwa Power’s adoption of a centralised control and monitoring project in January 2018, which deployed Huawei’s Fusion Solar system for plant management, monitoring, and control.

Commenting on the latest round of MoUs, Acwa Power’s Abunayyan said: “As a leading developer of power and water assets in the region committed to reducing cost and investing in several countries within the Belt and Road initiative corridor, Acwa Power has the unique position of being able to support the economic transformation envisioned by both the ambitious and collaborative Belt and Road initiative as well as Saudi Arabia’s forward-looking and iconic Vision 2030.”

Acwa Power’s president, Paddy Padmanathan, said the company had increasingly entered collaborations with Chinese investors, financial service providers, technology providers, and engineering, procurement, and construction contractors to deliver its “rapidly expanding portfolio” of utilities assets.

“The synergies created through these agreements will allow us to maintain our cost leadership reputation, creating immense value to the ultimate beneficiaries of the electricity and desalinated water we provide – the people of the countries we invest in,” he added.

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