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RIYADH: Massive technological developments spearheaded in Saudi Arabia have driven down the amount of energy needed to desalinate water, according to the CEO of ACWA Power.

Speaking during the Future of Desalination International Conference in Riyadh on Sept. 12, Paddy Padmanathan said there was still further to go to reduce the energy consumption in the sector, but added the whole process is now more “reliable”.

He also said the Kingdom is a prime investment destination for the water economy “due to the elements of overcoming the power challenges and capital low cost” compared to other countries in the region.

Reflecting on the change in production, Padmanathan said: “The business model was created here, and with massive technological advancement — really significant technological advancements — we have reduced the cost of the amount of energy that went into the desalination process, making it much much more reliable.

He added:  “We have now got to a stage where (we have) the efficiencies. (There is) much more room to go, but, we come from — just taking global numbers — 15+ kilowatt energy consumption down to 2.9, 2.8, just in a matter of decade, all being from thermal process to membrane process.”

Padmanathan said the price of energy is one of the reasons why desalination has proved expensive, but the reduction in consumption is not the only aspect that could see the cost fall.

“I don’t want to use this word but I’m going to use it: energy has got ‘democratized’, all of the sudden sunshine is pretty much everywhere,” he said, referring to the potential of solar power.

Hosted by Saudi Arabia from Sept. 11-13 in Riyadh, the Future of Desalination International Conference aims to discuss opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the desalination sector.

Policymakers, developers, contractors, researchers and innovators will attend to discuss the sector’s future.

 



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