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RIYADH: ACWA Power plans to expand its water desalination plants in the Middle East and Africa within the next few years, especially in Egypt and Morocco, the CEO said.

Speaking to Arab News at the Future of Desalination Conference in Riyadh, Paddy Padmanathan, ACWA Power’s CEO, said that the developer sees Egypt as the next domain to participate in desalination.

“We see opportunities emerging in Morocco and South Africa in the not too distant future,” he added.

With assets in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, ACWA Power is the world’s largest private developer of seawater desalination.

Padmanathan said the company would also open the world’s largest reverse osmosis plant in Abu Dhabi next month to facilitate efficient power consumption.

Commenting on water desalination in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Padmanathan said that the prices are the lowest because they have a large market.

“These countries are very creditworthy. They have a track record of delivering, honoring contracts and getting projects done. They have also been advancing the technology revolution,” he said.

However, he said that the rest of the world had reached a point where it needed more water desalination, even without considering climate change.

Globally, there is a growing gap between supply and demand, which will result in a 30 percent increase in water demand by 2030, Padmanathan said. “The gap is widening,” he added.

With ACWA Power’s expansion into wider regions, Padmanathan expects the cost of desalination to remain low and even fall further as the market grows.

Commenting on ACWA Power’s growth volume, Padmanathan said: “We expect big growth in the future from desalination.”

The CEO added the Shuaibah 3 independent water and power project is undergoing restructuring.

As part of the Kingdom’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, he said the country would shut down all oil-fired power plants. However, Shuaibah would be restructured into a RO plant.

In June 2022, ACWA Power announced that the Shuaibah 3 IWPP would transform the thermal power and desalination facility into a seawater RO desalination plant, renaming it Shuaibah 3 Independent Water Project.

“The restructuring would be complete in the next 10 days,” added Padmanathan.

ACWA Power is also working closely with the Saudi government to develop an innovative structure, the first of its kind that removes all of the oil use and produces water with a RO plant.

The company this week signed an industrial development agreement with Water Global Access, a research and technology development firm, to integrate hydraulic injection desalination technology at scale.

According to a statement, the agreement comes six months after both companies signed a collaboration agreement to develop a roadmap for HID across ACWA Power’s projects.

It will involve the implementation of a pilot project that includes HID in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, following research that has demonstrated that the technology has the potential to break the 2 kilowatt-hour barriers of energy consumption to produce 1 cubic meter of water from seawater.

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