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Acciona to Finance AI Project at Qatar Desal Plant to Cut CO2 Emissions

Spanish infrastructure major Acciona said it will finance an artificial intelligence (AI) project at the Umm Al Houl desalination plant in Qatar from its dedicated decarbonisation fund – one of only 14 projects in the world that have been chosen for their potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with the group’s business activities.


The Umm Al Houl Seawater Reverse Osmosis plant, which is scheduled to become operational in April, will use a state-of-the-art AI platform called Maestro, to optimise operations and achieve energy saving in particular.


Acciona said it will use AI to lower energy and reagent consumption, which will lower the carbon footprint of the desalination plant. The infrastructure major estimates the use of AI to greatly reduce emissions by 12,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.


Acciona has been a carbon neutral company since 2016 in its direct operations. In line with the latest climate science, the group is committed to reducing its direct and energy consumption emissions by 60 per cent between 2017 and 2030, consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement’s most ambitious goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.


To achieve this goal, the company has launched a decarbonisation fund to finance promising projects with the potential to significantly reduce emissions.


The AI platform at the Umm Al Houl desalination plant will be the first project in the Middle East to receive support from Acciona’s decarbonization fund, said the statement from Acciona.


The Maestro AI platform processes operational data in real-time to allow predictive, autonomous and continuous optimisation at scale. This is expected to deliver lower operational costs, while maximising output, plant reliability and water quality, it stated.


It is also scalable, which will allow Acciona to extend the benefits of AI to all its clients in the global water industry as part of its commitment to continuous innovation and service excellence.


Acciona’s innovation and technical expertise are aimed at creating solutions that address water scarcity, sanitation problems, and access to a vital resource at a time of growing demand. To deliver water treatment for a sustainable future, it is using advanced water treatment technologies with a focus on the digitization, said its top official.


"The use of AI in desalination is a milestone for the industry. We are just beginning to explore the potential of new technologies, but being pioneers means being able to offer a better and more competitive service to our clients," remarked Guillermo Hijós, the O&M Desalination Middle East Director.


Acciona was awarded the design, construction and operation and maintenance of Umm Al Houl SWRO desalination plant in 2015. The plant will produce 564,000 cu m of desalinated water per day, enough to serve 1.1 million people, after the start-up of operations at the expanded facility in April. 


The Umm Al Houl plant represents a milestone in the world of desalination, as it will be the largest facility in Qatar using reverse osmosis technology. To date, only evaporation technology was used to desalinate water.


Acciona ME Managing Director Jesús Sancho said: "We place the fight against climate change and its impacts at the top of our business goals. Our Business as Unusual approach means that we are constantly seeking to improve our water infrastructure solutions to meet the particular challenges of water scarcity and sustainability in the Middle East."


Acciona manages a water portfolio in the Middle East region that generates more than 2,820,000 cu m/day of desalinated seawater once all the facilities are completed, he added.


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