Saudi Arabia - The Saudi Water Partnerships Company (SWPC) has announced that work is moving at a steady pace on the Jubail 3A Water Desalination Project - said to be the first and the largest facility in the world to run on renewable energy - which is set to launch commercial operations by year-end.

A greenfield sea water reverse osmosis desalination project, Jubail 3A is being set up at an investment of $650 million in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, said SWPC in its statement.

The facility contains tanks with a capacity of 600,000 cu m and also has a solar unit to produce 44MW power, thus greatly contributing to Saudi efforts to ensure water security.

A consortium led by Acwa Power, a leading Saudi developer, investor and operator of power generation and desalinated water plants, in association with Gulf Investment Company (GIC) and Al Bawani Water and Power Company (AWP), is developing the project.

The key independent water project (IWP) is located 18 km south of Jubail Industrial City along the Arabian Gulf coast, adjacent to the existing plant units (Jubail Phase 1, Jubail Phase 2 and Jubail RO plants).

It had in 2020 won the project with a world-record tariff of 41 US cents per cu m for desalinated potable water.

The Acwa Power-led consortium has signed a 25-year water purchase agreement with SWPC under which it will design, construct, commission, operate and maintain the desalination plant as well as associated potable water storage and electrical special facilities.

Work is in full swing on the facility and it is likely to kick off commercial operations as per schedule by year-end, said Khaled Alqureshi, the CEO of Saudi Water Partnerships Company, after an inspection tour of the project site.

Accompanied by senior officials of the projects team, Alqureshi did a follow up on the operational tests of the station.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) work is being handled by a consortium of Sepco III, Power China and Abengoa. The operations and maintenance agreement was signed with an affiliate of First National Operations & Maintenance Company (Nomac).

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