Under the Patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
“Science & Technology” Announces Launching the National Initiative to Desalinate Water Using the Solar Energy
KACST announced today (24 janu) launching the national initiative to desalinate water using the solar energy under a kind patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin AbdulAziz and with the participation of three governmental bodies including Ministry of Finance, Ministry of water and Electricity and Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC).
The announcement came in a press conference held by KACST in its headquarters in Riyadh in the presence of Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel-KACST President, Dr. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Ala'ssaf- Minister of Finance, Eng. Abdullah Alhusayyen -Minister of Water and Electricity and Chairman of The Board of SWCC, Dr Khalid Al Suleiman- Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh - SWCC deputy-governor, Mr. Mansour Al-Maiman, secretary general of the Public Investment Fund and a good number of KACST top officials,
At the beginning of the press conference, Dr. Al-Suwaiyel indicated that this initiative targets finding the best technologic solutions with the minimum cost to participate in supporting the national economy. He stressed that advanced technologies in this field have been developed in the Joint Search Center for nanotechnologies between KACST and the world IBM Corporation for the practical application of the advanced Nanotechnologies in fields of producing solar energy and the membranes used in desalinating water.
KACST president emphasized that this national initiative takes into consideration that desalinated water is a strategic choice to secure drinking water in the kingdom. He explained that the kingdom produces more than 18% of the world production of desalinated water and as reasons of the high cost of producing desalinated water spring mainly from the huge energy consumption in desalinating plants; consequently, reducing the cost of producing energy would be positively reflected in reducing the cost of production.
The press conference included a presentation about the National Initiative by Prince Dr. Turki Saud Mohammad Al Saud, KACST Vice President for Research Institutes through which the Prince Dr. pinpointed that the Science and Technology National Plan gives the first priority to water researches and technology. The Prince, meanwhile, pointed out that KACST has been cooperating with IBM as the technological partner to work on developing the advanced nanotechnologies in fields of water desalination and solar energy and this cooperating fructified technologies that remarkably reduce the cost of producing solar energy and water desalination.
Dr. Turki elaborated that KACST has been working since more than three decades to execute R &D programs in the field of transferring, adapting and settling technologies of solar energy based on the bright sunshine in the kingdom round the year with the power of 20000 kilowatt per every square meter annually.
Elaborating on the details of the initiative, Prince Turki, explained that the National Imitative for Water Desalination by using solar energy would be executed on three phases within a period of nine years. The first phase targets building a plant for desalinating water with a production capacity of 30000 cubic meter per day to meet the needs of Khafji city of drinking water via constructing a plant for producing the solar energy by the power of 10 megawatt and membranes of Reverse Osmosis. The Prince highlighted executing this phase would cover the period of three years and actual steps for executing this phase have already started shortly.
Dr. Turki added that the second phase targets constructing a desalination plant with a production capacity of 300000 (three hundred thousand) cubic meter daily; the execution of this phase would take another three years while the third phase targets constructing a number of water desalination plants operated by the solar energy for all parts of the kingdom.
KACST Vice President for Research Institutes revealed that projects of the National Initiative for Desalinating Water would be executed by a national industrial consortium that would market the products on the world level adding that this, by its turn, would serve and boost the national strategic directives of industry as KACST would own production rights that would be licensed to the others and marketed abroad.
From his side, the Minister of Finance expressed his pride of this national initiative for development that is supervised by KACST, as the solar energy is a renewable one in addition to the abundance of seawater would secure water in the appropriate amounts for the kingdom besides reducing the cost of production.
Dr. Ala'ssaf expressed the readiness of the ministry of finance to offer the necessary and full support the promising directive of the kingdom in the filed of using the solar energy in collaboration with the world specialized bodies, focusing on the importance of the participation of the local capital in developing this promising industry that ACST carries out besides so many other important scientific, technological, innovative and industrial issues.
Eng. Abdullah Alhusayyen, Minister of Water and Electricity and Chairman of The Board of SWCC, considered the announcement of this initiative a qualitative move and remarkable day in the history of the industry of water and electricity in the kingdom based on the 7% annual increase in these two vital sectors; pointing out that this percentage represents three times of the percentage of the population growth. The minister stressed that this tremendous growth percentage in demand represents a heavy financial burden on the ministry and on the sources of energy production in the kingdom.
The minister considered using the solar energy in desalinating water optimal for the kingdom for many reasons that include its being a clean energy and does not constitute any burden on the environment and its abundance on the year round in addition to the low cost of using this energy in desalinating water.
The minister stressed that by the end of the first phase, all problems of water shortage in Khafji city would be eliminated on the long run as 30000 cubic meter of drinking water would be produced instead of the current amount of 20000 cubic meters that does not meet the its water needs at the present time.
Dr Khalid Al Suleiman- Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, by his turn, described this achievement as an international one in regards of profits gained by the sectors that use this technology, adding that this technology is considered the most eloquent answer to those who question the role of research and development in achieving growth. Dr Al Suleiman highlighted that KACST, by this initiative, has proved that research is not for the mere sake of research and developing a technology but meet strategic needs of the country.
The Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry indicated that the targeted cost of generating electricity by using the solar energy is within 30 Hallah per kilowatt/hour while the current cost is four times this figure that is considered an enormous achievement reducing the cost to one quarter.
In the same context, Mr. Mansour Al-Maiman, secretary general of the Public Investment Fund shed light on the role of the fund in supporting sectors whose nature of work requires large boosting. Meanwhile, he lauded the standing cooperation between KACST and the Fund in pursuit of the Royal approval on making the feasibility study to establish a corporation to commercialize findings and results of researches and application programs made by KACST and other research centers.