Saudi Focus

$80bn desal schemes by 2025 planned

February 2016

The Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has announced plans to invest about $80 billion by 2025 in a bid to boost desalinated water production to 8.5 million cu m per day.

The state-run SWCC now produces 3.6 million cu m per day of desalinated water – a figure that will need to reach 8.5 million to keep up with growing demand, said an expert citing a report by construction research firm Ventures Onsite.

As part of its unremitting efforts to work towards developing sustainable methods of potable water production, Saudi Arabia has announced a number of pioneering projects, including the world’s first solar-powered desalination plant at Al Khafji.

Valued at $130 million and slated for completion in 2017, the photovoltaic plant – a joint venture between Advanced Water Techologies and Abengoa – will produce 60,000 cu m of water to supply Al Khafji City in north-eastern Saudi Arabia, ensuring a constant water supply throughout the year, he stated.

However, a comprehensive, innovation-driven approach to water management is necessary to truly achieve sustainability in the country, remarked Dr Abdullah Al Shaikh, the chief executive of Advanced Water Technology, a subsidiary of the Saudi-based technology and investment company Taqnia.

A rapidly growing population, on track to reach 39.1 million by 2030, and a staggeringly high consumption rate, at a total of nearly 1,600 litres per capita per day, has motivated Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost sustainable water production, said Dr Al Shaikh.

As part of this ongoing effort, the Ministry of Water and Energy recently announced a 50 per cent increase in water tariffs for government offices and commercial firms, he added.

Dr Al Shaikh said the SWCC is also trying to double energy efficiency from the current level of about 26 to 27 per cent to 54 to 55 per cent, and is increasingly looking at renewables to achieve this target.

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