Acwa Power's fully owned desalination plant in Makkah opens ahead of schedule

The Shuaibah Expansion II scheme has the capacity to generate 250,000 cubic metres of water per day

Prince Khalid inaugurated the Shuaibah Expansion II IWP, which was completed ahead of its scheduled start-up. Courtesy: Acwa Power
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Utility developer Acwa Power announced the commercial start-up of a desalination project in Saudi Arabia's western region of Makkah ahead of schedule.

The Shuaibah Expansion II scheme, which has the capacity to generate 250,000 cubic metres of water per day, began commercial operations in May.

The plant was built at a cost of $314 million (Dh1.15 billion) and was inaugurated by Prince Khalid bin Faisal, Governor of Makkah province.

“Stemming from our continued commitment to meet the power and water desalination needs of Saudi Arabia, we are extremely proud to maximise local content reaching 100 per cent of operations led by Saudi teams," said Acwa Power chairman Mohammad Abunayyan.

The project was completed in 21 months, a record for large-scale reverse osmosis plants, according to the developer.

Reverse osmosis is a process in which water flows through a membrane that separates heavier sediments and salts. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium are then added to the filtered water before packaging it for consumption.

Besides the newly-opened plant, Acwa Power also owns and operates the Shuaibah independent water and power plant, the first such scheme developed following the Saudi Arabian government's decision to open up the sector to private investment. The project generates 900 megawatts of power and 880,000 cubic metres of water per day. In 2009, the utility developer completed the 150,000 cubic metre per day Shuaibah expansion independent water producer scheme.