Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Ras Al-Khair desalination and power plant began its second stage of operations on Tuesday, with the event overseen by Abdullah Bin Abdul-Rahman Al-Haseen, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Water and Electricity and head of the board of directors of the state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) that operates the plant.
The facility—the world’s largest hybrid water desalination plant—will now begin pumping 900,000 and 100,000 cubic meters of desalinated water respectively to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the Hafr Al-Batin region some 298 miles (480 kilometers) north of the capital.
Once fully operational, the plant is capable of producing 1.025 billion cubic meters of desalinated water per day, which it can transport from its six storage units via 802-mile (1,290-kilometer) double-lined pipelines.
The plant was connected to the country’s power grid in February, in what was the first stage in bringing the 23 billion Saudi riyal (6 billion US dollar) project online. It is currently operating at 380 kV capacity and is gearing up to produce 800 megawatts of power during the second quarter of 2014. It has a total power generating capacity of 2,400 MW.
Speaking about the project, SWCC governor Abdul-Rahman Bin Mohammad Al-Ibrahim said that overseeing a project of this kind and size was not an easy task given “the great obstacles we faced,” the most difficult of which was “the completion of the project without compromising on quality.” He said the plant was expected to provide some 3,500 direct and indirect employment opportunities.
The plant uses a hybrid system comprising multistage flashing (MSF) and reverse osmosis (RO) technologies. MSF involves heating seawater to produce steam, which then undergoes condensation to produce desalinated water. RO uses pressure generated by pumps to force seawater through a semi-permeable membrane which separates the sodium and chloride from the water.
The Kingdom is expanding its water and electricity sectors to supply a rapidly growing population and an expanding industrial and energy industry as it seeks to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on petrodollars.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest producer of desalinated water.