Spanish infrastructure major Acciona said it has achieved a key construction milestone on the Al Khobar 1 project with the production of the first cu m of water (equivalent to consumption of a four-member family for a day) at its desalination plant on the east coast of Saudi Arabia.
Acciona is a world leader in desalination using reverse osmosis technology, which emits 6.5 times fewer greenhouse gases than thermal desalination.
The Spanish group is the EPC contractor for Al Khobar 1, which it expects to complete before the end of the year.
Once operational, the desalination plant, which is owned by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), will produce 210,000 cu m of potable water per day, serving a population of 350,000 inhabitants.
On the key milestone, Ignacio Lobo Gutiérrez, Acciona Project Director, said: “It is the result of good teamwork between the client, our engineers and the construction teams. Now that we are entering the final stage of construction, we will undertake a number of trials and tests to make sure everything works perfectly.”
The plant, equipped with energy-efficient Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) technology, is a critical project in the modernisation of the water sector being undertaken by SWCC.
Acciona Middle East Managing Director Jesús Sancho said while it was delighted over the achievement at Al Khobar 1, it was equally proud of another miletone – relaated to workers’ safety.
“We have successfully clocked five million man-hours without lost-time injuries, an example of Acciona’s dedication to the health and wellbeing of our employees and our partners, and our commitment to our client and to the local authorities.”
Saudi Arabia, with a population of about 33.4 million, is the world’s third largest per capita consumer of water, behind the US and Canada.
The kingdom has introduced measures to rationalise water consumption as part of its Vision 2030 program, with the goal of achieving a 24 per cent reduction in consumption in 2021 and by as much as 43 per cent by the end of this decade.
According to Acciona’s latest Sustainability Report, desalinated water production in the Middle East will be 13 times higher in 2040 than it was in 2014. In a region with acute water scarcity, demand for desalinated water is being driven by climate change and population growth.