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ACWA Power and SWPC to restructure Shuaibah 3

ACWA Power and Saudi Water Partnership Company to reconfigure Shuaibah 3 from an energy-intensive water and power facility to a greenfield reverse osmosis plant. (Image source: ACWA Power)

ACWA Power, a leading Saudi developer, investor and operator of power generation, Shuaibah Water Electricity Company (SWEC), and Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), the off-taker of Shuaibah 3 IWPP, have signed an agreement to restructure the Shuaibah 3 Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP)

The agreement entails the conversion and replacement of the IWPP from an energy-intensive power generation and thermal desalination facility to a greenfield seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant under the name ?Shuaibah 3 Independent Water Project (IWP)?. As such, operations of Shuaibah 3 Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP) will cease in 2025, saving nearly 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 22 million barrels of light crude oil annually.

Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadli, minister of environment, water and agriculture in Saudi Arabia and chairman of the board of directors of SWPC, signed a 25-year water purchase agreement for the new Shuaibah 3 IWP today with a consortium led by ACWA Power and Public Investment Fund (PIF)-owned Badeel, at a value of approximately US$7bn. The ACWA Power ? Badel consortium will lead the implementation of the project while SWPC will serve as the offtaker. 

Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power, said, ?The energy sector is witnessing strategic shifts towards reducing the dependence on liquid fuels as a vital energy source for water desalination and power production. This is 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% of energy consumption.?

Deemed as one of the largest desalination projects in the Kingdom, Shuaibah 3 IWP will utilise state-of-the-art reverse osmosis technologies to ensure the highest level of production efficiency and reliability that can be benchmarked against any comparable plant in the world.  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% 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%. 

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

Shuaibah 3 IWP is expected to be commercially operational by Q2 2025, with the financial returns of the contracted revenues reflected during the same period. 

ACWA Power is the largest private operator of water desalination plants in the world, with a production capacity of 6.4 million cubic metres of desalinated water a day.