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Saudi awards contract for world's largest water desalination plant

Acwa Power beats 55 expressions of interest and four bidders for Red Sea coast megaproject

Acwa Power has won a contract to develop the world's largest desalination plant in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia [representational image].
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Acwa Power has won a contract to develop the world's largest desalination plant in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia [representational image].

Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power has won a contract to build the world’s largest independent water desalination plant in Rabigh, located on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast.

According to a statement, Acwa submitted the lowest tariff at 0.53USD/m3, beating out 55 expressions of interest and four other bidders to develop Rabigh 3 IWP alongside Saudi Brothers Commercial Company (SBCC).

The new facility – set to start operation on 31 December, 2021 – will use reverse osmosis (RO) technology to yield a capacity of 600,000m3 a day, with its design ensuring “the highest efficiency, reliability, and availability for any comparable plant in the world”.

Acwa said the plant, procured under a 25-year build-own-operate contract, will cater to the water demands of Holy City Makkah al-Mukarramah and Jeddah, “especially during demand peak periods such as the Holy Month of Ramadan and Hajj seasons”.

READ: Acciona submits bids for four Saudi Arabia desalination projects

The water purchase agreement was signed by HE Eng Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and Chairman of Water and Electricity Company (WEC), which will act as the off-taker of the project.

Speaking on the deal, Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of Acwa Power, said: “Rabigh 3 IWP will deliver potable water at the lowest cost achieved to date for RO while consuming the least amount of power for each cubic meter of water produced. It is consequently another important step in elevating living standards in the kingdom.

READ: The future of sustainable construction in the Middle East

“Rabigh 3 IWP will contribute to economic progress and increased employment opportunities, helping the Kingdom reach the highest levels of prosperity,” he added.

The news comes months after the Middle East chief of Spanish contractor Acciona told Construction Week that it is bidding on four “huge” water desalination and sewage treatment plants in Saudi Arabia.

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