Saudi Arabia intends to depend heavily on solar energy to operate desalination plants instead of oil and gas as part of its efforts to make use of alternative and renewable energy sources.
Mr Abdullah Al Hussayen water and electricity minister of Saudi Arabia has disclosed plans to set up a new solar-powered desalination plant within 18 months.
The Saline Water Conversion Corporation which runs more than 30 desalination plants on the Kingdom's western and eastern coasts signed an agreement with Hitachi Zosen Corporation of Japan to conduct research on making use of solar power for desalination purpose.
Mr Fehaid Al Sharief governor of SWCC who signed the deal with Mr Minoru Furukawa chairman and president of Hitachi Zosen said that "This agreement reflects SWCC's intent to execute the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on exploiting solar energy to operate desalination plants."
Mr Al Sharief said that the move supports SWCC's strategy to cut down on production expenditures by conducting research on using renewable energy sources to operate its plants. This three-year agreement aims at exchanging expertise and knowledge on exploiting renewable energy. It includes setting up of a solar energy complex by the Japanese company.
Meanwhile, Minister Mr Al Hussayen accompanied by Mr AlSharief inspected the progress of work at the desalination-cum-power generation plant in Ras Al Khair in the Eastern Province. The project will meet full requirements of Maaden Company. The plant would supply water to Riyadh during the first quarter of 2013.
The Ras Al Khair desalination plant is considered the largest in the world with a daily capacity of more than a million cubic meters of water and 2400 MW electricity. The project is being implemented at a total cost of SAR 25 billion and the contract was awarded in November 2010.