Saudi Arabia Announces 9 New Desalination Plants in 18 Months

Saudi Arabia said it would build 9 new desalination plants in the next 18 months on the Red Sea coast, according to an announcement by the Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Abdulrahman al-Fadhli.

The new plants will cost SAR 2 billion ($533 million). The minister said the plants would be built “using modern techniques” to “improve the quality of water services” in Saudi Arabia, and would add 240,000 cubic meters per day, the london-based Asharq Alawsat reports.

Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadhly.

Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadhly.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia said it would need $53 billion in water sector investment supported by private funds. As a nation with extremely limited fresh water resources, the Kingdom has already invested in and developed new technologies to provide water to its cities, towns, and booming population.

Last year the government said it had approved $24.5b for water, agriculture, and environment spending to allow leaders to meet 16 goals set as part of its Vision 2030 development plan.

Water supply for the Saudi Arabia is among its foremost challenges. A local study done by the King Faisal University in 2016 found that Saudi Arabia’s timetable for water is much shorter than previously estimated. Saudi Arabia’s groundwater is now estimated to run out in the next 13 years, according to a water expert at KFU.

Saudi Arabia leads the world in the production of desalinated water with a daily production capacity of 117 million cubic feet. The country has 27 desalination plants spread along the country’s coastline with 21 located along the Red Sea and six located on the East Coast.

Saudi Arabia’s desalination plants use a number of different processes, according to the Oxford Business Group. According to figures from Saudi Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority, 64% of desalination capacity relies on the multi-stage flash process (MSF), while 20% uses reverse osmosis (RO) and 16% is produced using multi-effect distillation (MED).

Minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli was appointed as the Minister of Agriculture in January 2015. In May 2016, a Royal Decree was issued to change the name of the Ministry to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.