Saudi Focus

Solar-powered desal plant on the way

February 2015

ABENGOA, a Spanish multinational corporation, has joined hands with Saudi-based Advanced Water Technology (AWT) to develop the world’s first large-scale desalination plant to be powered by solar energy in the kingdom.

The plant will produce 60,000 cu m of water a day to supply Al Khafji City in north-eastern Saudi Arabia, ensuring a constant water supply throughout the year, said the company.

AWT is a newly formed company based in Riyadh whose mission is to bring affordable water solutions through innovation and sustainability. A commercial arm of King Abdulaziz City Science and Technology (KACST), it is owned by Taqnia.

The project, valued at $130 million, is a global pioneering one since it incorporates a photovoltaic plant that will be capable of supplying the power required by the desalination process, significantly reducing the operational costs.

It will also have a system to optimise power consumption and a pre-treatment phase to reduce the high level of salinity and the oils and fats that are present in the region’s seawater, said Abengoa.

Al Khafji desalination plant will ensure a stable supply of drinking water, contributing to the country’s socio-economic development.

Abengoa said along with AWT it will supply the local population with its water needs in a sustainable and reliable way.

This latest contract will further consolidate Abengoa’s leadership position in the water sector, increasing its total desalination capacity to nearly 1,500,000 cu m per day, sufficient to supply 8.5 million people around the world, stated the Spanish firm.

It will also strengthen its position in the Middle East where it has already been awarded major projects in the water sector, such as the Barka desalination plant in Oman, and in the energy sector, the region’s largest solar plant, in Abu Dhabi.

For AWT, this represents its initial foray into the upstream activities of desalination water production.

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