Saudi Arabia has raised its production of desalinated water to five million cubic meters per day (m3/d) at the end of 2017, making the kingdom the largest producer of desalinated water in the world, according to the kingdom's Saline Water Conversion Corporation
SWCC, the government corporation responsible for the desalination of seawater, said that it raised desalinated water output by 1 million m3 per day from 4 million m3/d over the last year, without any capital expenditure. This increase is almost equivalent to the output of a new 10 billion riyal plant, according to SWCC’s official twitter account.
Water security is a key issue for policymakers in Saudi Arabia as its growing population of over 32 million is placing greater demands on the need for this basic resource. The Kingdom's Vision 2030 plan has stated that the use of water in agriculture will be prioritised for areas that have renewable water sources. (Read more here).
“We will continue to build safe and sufficient strategic food reserves, to better guard against emergencies. Aquaculture will be promoted, as will strategic partnerships with countries blessed with natural resources such as fertile soil and water reserves.” the Vision 2030 document said.
The kingdom ended its domestic wheat production in 2016 in order to save its scarce water reserves, and it started to depend purely on wheat imports.
According to International Desalination Association's (IDA) latest statistics published in November 2016, 2016 marked the third year of continued growth for the global desalination market after a slowdown in the mid-2000s. The cumulative installed capacity of the 18,983 desalination plants worldwide reached 88.6 million m3/d.
“Much of this added capacity came from a slew of awards for large-scale seawater projects, particularly in the Gulf region, as 2016 marked the third yearly increase in seawater capacity added, from 1 million m³/d additional capacity in 2014 to 1.6 million m³/d so far in 2016,” the IDA report said.
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(Reporting by Nada Al Rifai; Editing by Michael Fahy)
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