Saudi Neom megacity will have world’s first ‘solar dome’ desalination plant

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Updated 30 January 2020

Saudi Neom megacity will have world’s first ‘solar dome’ desalination plant

  • Facility will be completely sustainable, carbon neutral and greatly reduce environmental impact of water extraction
  • Construction is due to begin in the next month and is expected to be complete by end of 2020

TABUK: The Neom smart-city project will use cutting-edge solar technology to power a desalination plant that produces clean, low-cost, environmentally friendly fresh water.

The decision aims to enhance megacity’s position as a new global tourism destination, a center of innovation and environmental conservation, and as an accelerator of human progress.

Neom signed an agreement with UK business Solar Water Limited to build a desalination plant in the northwest of the Kingdom that uses the newly developed “solar dome” technology. It is hoped the first-of-its-kind, completely sustainable and carbon-neutral facility will shape the future of desalination in Neom, the Kingdom and throughout the world.

Work on the solar dome project will begin in February and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The technology it employs will significantly reduce the environmental impact of the desalination process by producing less saline solution, a byproduct that can harm natural ecosystems.

The pioneering and innovative approach from Solar Water Limited, which was developed at Cranfield University in the UK, represents the first widespread use of concentrated solar power technology in desalination, Neom said. Seawater is pumped into a hydrological solar dome made of glass and steel, where it is heated and evaporated to remove the salt. The process can continue at night thanks to the storage of solar energy generated throughout the day. The technology helps to prevent any damage to marine life as it does not dump saline solution created by the process back into the sea.

“Neom’s adoption of the experimental version of this program supports the sustainability goals set by the Ministry in the Kingdom, as shown in the National Water Strategy 2030, and is fully in line with the sustainable-development goals set by the United Nations,” said Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.

Neom CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said that the megacity project has easy access to abundant amounts of seawater and completely renewable energy resources, which puts it in the ideal position to produce low-cost and sustainable fresh water using solar-powered desalination.

He added that the adoption of this type of technology reflects Neom’s commitment to supporting innovation, protecting the environment and preserving its purity to provide a comfortable and exceptional life. It also raises the possibility of using the technology in other parts of Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

David Reavley, the CEO of Solar Water Ltd, said: “Currently, thousands of desalination plants around the world rely heavily on burning fossil fuels for water extraction, and we have the technology to desalinate water in a way that is completely sustainable and 100 percent carbon neutral.

“We are happy to partner with Neom, which has a strong vision of what the new future looks like in harmony and integration with nature.”
 


Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 26 May 2020

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.