RIYADH: NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s smart and sustainable city, will build a water desalination plant by 2024 to combat water scarcity, revealed the CEO of its water and energy subsidiary ENOWA.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Desalination International Conference held in Riyadh, ENOWA’s CEO Peter Terium told Arab News that the project would also undertake the ambitious task of creating an artificial freshwater lake in Trojena.
“If you want to build a future land like NEOM, and you want to have livability, green parks and food production, then you need water, and of all the beautiful things it has, water is not one of them,” he said.
The desalination project will be a benchmark in sustainability because it will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
“We have an ambitious road ahead of us. The first thing would be bringing a large wind and solar field into NEOM, and then we need to add to that,” Terium said.
He added that NEOM’s renewable energy goal is achievable and will have a competitive cost advantage because the wind speeds go up to 11 meters a second and the place is solar-intensive.
Using renewable energy in water desalination will also boost the city’s green hydrogen production, which could be supplied to other countries.
“The first large-scale green hydrogen plant in the world is being built in NEOM,” he stated.
The NEOM Green Hydrogen project is a joint venture among NEOM, ACWA Power and USA’s Air Products. It is set to produce 650 tons of hydrogen daily and mitigate the impact of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Terium also stated that NEOM’s strategic geographical positioning and the Kingdom’s vibrant economy would allow the futuristic city to supply green hydrogen to the largest markets in the world.
“Our position at the Gulf of Aqaba will allow us to get to Europe. We can get to Southeast Asia through the Red Sea, and then California is a bit further away,” pointed out Terium.
“We are in a position where we can export to any place where green hydrogen is needed and cannot be produced,” he said.
The production capacity of the green hydrogen plant in NEOM would be 2,000 megawatts, which is 10 times the largest planned production facility in Europe.
While the numbers may not match pace with the growing demand for green hydrogen, it is an excellent start for a city two times bigger than the collective size of London, New York, Singapore and Dubai.
“The world needs tens, if not hundreds, of gigawatts of hydrogen production. We are not big enough to host all of that, but we can lead by example as we are the first ones to do it,” said Terium.