Officials after the agreement signing among the concerned stakeholders

ACWA Power, Shuaibah Water Electricity Company (SWEC), and Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC) have agreed to convert the Shuaibah 3 Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP) from an energy-intensive power generation and thermal desalination facility to a greenfield seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant. It will be renamed Shuaibah 3 Independent Water Project (IWP).

Accordingly, the Shuaibah 3 IWPP will cease to operate in 2025, saving nearly 45 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 22 million barrels of light crude oil annually.

Upon completion of the project, Shuaibah 3 IWP will produce 600,000 cu m of water a day, catering to the water demand of Jeddah and Makkah, especially during peak demand periods of the holy month of Ramadan and the Hajj seasons.

The project will produce potable water at record-low power consumption and be partially energised by photovoltaic solar energy, which will reduce electricity consumption from the grid by 45 per cent and minimise the carbon footprint, advocating the best environmental and sustainability practices during operation. The switch from thermal to RO will reduce the power needed to desalinate seawater by 70 per cent.

A 25-year water purchase agreement has also been signed for the new Shuaibah 3 IWP with a consortium led by ACWA Power and Public Investment Fund (PIF)-owned Badeel, worth SR3 billion ($800 million).

The ACWA Power–Badel consortium will lead the implementation of the project while SWPC will serve as the offtaker.

Local content of the project will amount to 40 per cent in the construction phase; 50 per cent in the operation and maintenance phase for the first five years; and will eventually increase to 70 per cent.

Shuaibah 3 IWP is expected to be commercially operational by Q2 2025.

Saudi Arabia’s energy sector is witnessing strategic shifts towards reducing the dependence on liquid fuels as a vital energy source for water desalination and power production. And this will be the first project in which a thermal water desalination plant is converted into a greenfield reverse osmosis facility that utilises renewable energy to save up to 70 per cent of energy consumption.

According to Mohammad Abunayyan, ACWA Power Chairman: "The (Shuaibah 3 IWP) project is one of the first of its kind in the region and falls within the framework of the program led by His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy, and unparalleled contribution of the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen, to deploy renewable energy as the primary source of power for water desalination."