RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the Future of Desalination International Conference from Sept. 11-13 in Riyadh to discuss opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the desalination sector.
Many policymakers, developers, contractors, researchers and innovators will attend to discuss the sector’s future.
Since its beginning in 1932, the Kingdom has been a prominent world player in the water desalination industry globally.
The current production of desalinated water in the Kingdom amounts to more than 7.9 million cubic meters per day, representing 55 percent of the Gulf region and 22.2 percent of the global desalination, according to a report released by the Saline Water Conversion Corp.
The scarcity of freshwater resources has made desalination crucial to achieving water self-sufficiency in the Kingdom, and the situation is critical as industry reports cite that water consumption is forecast to reach 12.3 million cmpd by 2040.
Saudi Arabia began the development of independent water and power projects in 2002 with the participation of the private sector through the build-own-operate and the build-own-operate-transfer models, according to the Saudi-US Business Council.
Some of the notable projects include the Shuqaiq plant, which has an output of 450,000 cmpd and supplies nearly 2 million people.
In 2015, the SWCC began operations at the $7.2 billion Ras Al-Khair desalination plant, adding more than 1 million cmpd to the national supply, the US-Saudi Business council reported. The project also includes a 2,400-megawatt power plant, making it the first of its kind built to such a scale.
Alkhobar plant, which began operations in September 2020, produces 210,000 cmpd water.
SWCC will also open six desalination plants by 2024 in various cities, including Al-Shuqaiq, Al-Shoaiba, Jubail and Alkhobar. Two of these plants will be operational by late 2022.
Each plant will have a power consumption of fewer than 1.7 kilowatts per cubic meter, reducing the water production cost from SR1.54 ($0.42) to SR1.3 per cubic meter.
“With production at such a minimum cost, it will increase the sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product,” SWCC governor Abdullah Al-Abdul-Karim told Arab News.
In March 2022, Saudi ACWA Power became the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, according to a statement issued by the company.
Located in the Kingdom, Rabigh 3 IWP, the SR2.6 billion project started supplying as much as 600,000 cmpd for up to 1 million homes in Makkah and Jeddah.
“At the moment, we have a portfolio of 6.4 million cmpd, and the desalination plants are currently in construction and operation. So, ACWA Power, a Saudi company, is now on the top of the world as a desalination producer,” said Tariq Nada, vice president for water and technical services, ACWA Power.
The company is building a larger plant in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to become operational in the last quarter of 2022.
The RO plant, named Taweelah, will have a production capacity of 909,000 cmpd.