Spanish infrastructure major Acciona said it has achieved a key milestone in the construction of the Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant, ramping up production during final testing to full capacity of 450 million litres of potable water per day, enough to meet the needs of two million people.
The new desalination plant, by the Red Sea, is one of the largest to be built in Saudi Arabia and is already supplying the water network of Abha and Jizan in the southwest of the country, an extremely dry region.
The plant is equipped with energy-efficient sea water reverse osmosis (SWRO) technology and is a key project in the modernisation of Saudi Arabia’s water sector.
Acciona is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Shuqaiq Three Company for Water (S3CW), owner of the Independent Water Project (IWP).
The project company has a long-term water purchase agreement with the Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC).
The contract included the construction of a large Electrical Special Facility (ESF) to supply the plant with power.
Acciona Shuqaiq 3 IWP Project Director Jesús García Prieto said: "This milestone is the result of good teamwork between the client, our engineers and the construction teams. Now that we are entering the final testing and commissioning stages, we will undertake a number of tests to make sure everything works perfectly."
Acciona is a world leader in desalination using reverse osmosis technology, which emits 6.5 times fewer greenhouse gases than thermal desalination.
It has five very large desalination plants and three large sewage treatment plants under construction in Saudi Arabia. All the desalination plants use seawater reverse osmosis technology.
These include Al Khobar I & II, with production capacities of 200 million and 630 million litres per day respectively; Shuqaiq 3 & 4, with 450 million and 400 million litres per day; and Jubail 3B with a capacity of 570 million litres per day.
Acciona Middle East Managing Director Jesús Sancho said: "We are proud to have reached this milestone at Shuqaiq 3. It proves our commitment to delivering good work to our clients on time, and of our ability to meet the goals of our clients and of local authorities."
In a region with acute water scarcity, demand for desalinated water is being driven by climate change and population growth. Saudi Arabia, which has a population of 35 million, is the world’s third largest per capita consumer of water after the US and Canada.
The kingdom had last year announced a national programme for rationalising water consumption, setting ambitious targets that include slashing usage by nearly 24% by 2022, and 43% by 2030, according to Acciona.
The targets form part of the Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive Vision 2030 social and economic development plan, it added.