Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised on the procurement and financing of the US$886 million development of the 2 GW Al Dhafra solar photovoltaic (PV) power project in Abu Dhabi.
"This is a key project in Abu Dhabi's Energy Transition," said White & Case partner Michael Watson, who led the Firm's deal team. "Our cross-practice and cross-border deal team on this unique transaction showcased the experience and capabilities our clients rely on when developing strategically important first-of-their kind renewables projects in the UAE."
Construction of the Al Dhafra project will be financed by a non-recourse bridge facility, with the intention that such bridge facility will be repaid by a long-term capital markets project bond issue. The bridge-to-bond template developed for Al Dhafra project represents the creation of a new green asset-class template designed to attract high quality investors to help finance Abu Dhabi's ambitious renewables growth plans. In addition, this benchmark template for capital markets financing will drive down the cost of debt and reduce transaction timelines and uncertainties for future solar PV projects.
The Al Dhafra project represents many other firsts. Once operational, the Al Dhafra Solar PV IPP will be the world's largest single-site solar power plant, using approximately 4 million solar panels to generate enough electricity for approximately 160,000 homes across the UAE. This project is expected to reduce Abu Dhabi's CO2 emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tons per year, equivalent to removing approximately 470,000 cars from the road, and is key to Abu Dhabi's Energy Transition goals of reducing power generation related carbon emissions and meeting at least 50 percent of its power demand from renewables by 2050. Such an achievement is even more notable when considering that the Al Dhafra project also benefits from the lowest solar tariff ever recorded at a mere AED 4.85 fils/kWh (USD 1.32 cents/kWh). The plant will deploy the latest in crystalline, bifacial solar technology, which will enable the plant to provide more efficient electricity by capturing solar irradiation from both the front and backside of the panel.
The White & Case team that advised on the transaction included partners Michael Watson (London), Yasser Riad and Alexander Malahias (both Abu Dhabi), counsel Habeeb Rahman (Abu Dhabi) and Catherine Andrews (London) and associates Jennifer Riddle, Khawla Alatiyat and Sarah Hudson (all Abu Dhabi) and Ana Louise O'Sullivan (London).
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