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Leaders UAE 2017: PPP and tech are key to GCC resource security

Sanctum Consult’s Craig Beeson tells delegates how public-private partnerships and technological innovation can facilitate power, water, and food security in the GCC

Craig Beeson (above) is chief executive officer of Sanctum Consult.
Craig Beeson (above) is chief executive officer of Sanctum Consult.

Sanctum Consult’s Craig Beeson tells delegates how public-private partnerships and technological innovation can facilitate power, water, and food security in the GCC...

In the summit’s final address,  ‘Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Technological Innovation: Enabling Power, Water, and Food Security in the GCC through PPP’, Sanctum Consult’s chief executive officer, Craig Beeson, explained how desert greening, and power and aqua towers – technologies developed by one of Sanctum’s partners, United Science & Capital – could ensure resource security in the GCC at little to no cost to the public sector.

Sanctum and United Science & Capital’s desert greening technology involves porous, volcanic rocks known as zeolites. By altering the zeolites’ pore sizes, and transforming them into organic material composites (OMCs), this system allows water, nutrition, and cooling agents to be directed to specific places, such as the roots of crops.

“The system enables us to use one fortieth of the water that you would normally need to grow your crops or plants,” Beeson explained. “We will build a factory, which will [use] waste recycling and incineration to generate power through pyrolysis. This energy will drive reactors and a desalination plant to provide approximately 50,000,000m3 of water. By doing this, we could turn 30,000ha of desert into an arable oasis.”

The power and aqua tower, meanwhile, uses temperature and pressure differences to drive air through turbines and generate electricity. The 650m-tall structures can also be used to desalinate billions of gallons of seawater per year. Beeson explained: “One tower is sufficient to produce 6,570,000MW [of power] per year, which is enough for roughly two million people. It can provide anywhere between 500,000,000m3 and 1,000,000,000m3 [of desalinated water] per year, which is enough for the whole of Riyadh, for example. [A tower] costs $2bn if you’re only looking for power. If you want the desalinating water as well, it’s another $1bn. So we’re talking about $3bn project.”

Beeson ended by explaining that, if deployed in combination, these technologies could transform the face of the region.

“At this stage, we have most of the GCC governments interested,” he concluded. ”And the good thing is that we’re going to pay for it all; the governments don’t have to pay anything. If you combine two [power and aqua] towers with our desert greening project, [you could] turn the UAE into a food exporter rather than a food importer. It’s going to change the whole landscape.”

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