Orascom Construction will build the largest windfarm in Egypt
Leading global engineering and construction contractor, Orascom Construction has announced its plans to partner with ENGIE (France) and Toyota Tsusho Corporation/Eurus Energy Holdings Corporation (Japan) in the development of a new 500MW build-own-operate (BOO) wind farm in Ras Ghareb, Egypt.
The agreement was recently signed between the consortium and the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) as the off-taker and the New & Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) as the land owner.
Orascom frequently invests in infrastructure opportunities, owns 50% of BESIX Group, and holds a diverse construction materials and property management portfolio.
Through the venture, the construction works are expected to close by Q4 2019. The project will complement the consortium’s existing 250 MW BOO wind farm, which is currently under construction and ahead of schedule, and expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2019.
- $5bn stadium, mixed-use park proposed for Chicago waterfront
- Emaar announces major Chinatown development in Dubai
- UAE’s Enviromena starts construction of solar plants in Egypt and Jordan
The 500MW project is set to become the largest renewable energy project of its kind in Egypt and is set to create opportunities with long-term market value. The business has also recently completed the refurbishment of the Emaar Al Almein Hotel, which was completed in under 10 months.
Since its inception in the 1950s, Orascom has grown organically to become a key player within the Middle East construction industry, where Egypt remains its largest market for new and upcoming projects, such as the Grand Egyptian Museum.
In 2018, the business has added up to $650mn new contracts to its portfolio of projects under construction in Egypt and the US, Zawya has reported.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.