Saudi Arabia is setting the standard for sustainable, energy-efficient desalination plants, while also preserving its status as the world leader in desalinated water output.
The Middle East and North African region have some of the lowest per capita water availability levels among the world’s most water-scarce regions.
This renders the region largely reliant on desalination, despite desalination directly influencing sustainability and renewable energy problems.
However, developers in the Kingdom want to preserve their facilities and operations in accordance with the country’s Vision 2030 aims and its leadership position in desalinated water production.
According to Tariq Nada, the company’s vice president for water and technical services, ACWA Power is transitioning away from thermal-powered systems and toward reverse osmosis facilities to promote efficient power use.
With a daily capacity of 6.4 million cubic metres of desalinated water, ACWA Power is the world’s largest private operator of water desalination facilities.
The corporation has a strong portfolio of ten seawater reverse osmosis projects across the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council, with some projects fueled in part by renewable energy.
With the arrival of foreign corporations in the Kingdom, the desalination sector has also grown. Acciona, a pioneer in renewable energy and infrastructure in Spain, is one example. Two plants have been supplied to the Kingdom by the firm.
It is now constructing four more, which will produce more than 2.36 billion litres of drinking water per day, giving water to more than 8 million people in the country, or almost a quarter of the population.
According to Julio de la Rosa, Acciona’s Middle East business development director for water solutions, the company lowered emissions connected with desalination by integrating solar energy into the facilities and maximising brine reuse.
Acciona reduced the emissions associated with desalination by integrating solar energy at the plants and optimizing brine reuse.
Julio de la Rosa, Acciona’s business development director for water solutions in the Middle East
According to Rosa, the implementation of these initiatives is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the company’s aim of making a better world.
Each Acciona initiative encourages sustainable development from all three perspectives: environmental, economic, and social.
Rosa stated that their technique helps them to fulfil their promise and objective of establishing sustainable water treatment in the Kingdom.
Acciona has built various projects in recent years, including Tabuk 2, Buraydah 2, Madinah 3, the autonomous water project Shuqaiq 3, SWRO Alkhobar phases 1 and 2, and Jubail 3B.
Once operational in 2024, the Jubail 3B desalination plant will filter 570,000 cubic metres per day, enough to feed 2 million people in Riyadh and Qassim.
Acciona will also construct a specialised 61-megawatt solar project, which will supply some of the plant’s output.
This will be the Kingdom’s largest in-house solar plant for a desalination plant. It will cut desalination-related pollutants while also relieving pressure on the national grid.
The project also comprises storage tanks, an energy substation, a 59-kilometre overhead transmission line, and accompanying maritime works.
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