Beginning in 2023, there will be something special about the drinking water flowing out of taps across Makkah and Madinah: this desalinated water will be partially produced using solar power.
The electricity required to power the Yanbu-4 seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant will flow through a substation delivered by a consortium comprised of GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions and Al Sharif Group. The turnkey substation project was awarded by Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd., the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the plant.
The 380-110 kV gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) substation represents critical infrastructure for the plant, which – by incorporating renewable power – reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to promoting environmental sustainability, while meeting the growing demand for fresh water.
Located 140 km west of Madinah, near the town of Ar Rayyis on the Red Sea coast, Yanbu-4 incorporates solar energy units generating 20 megawatts of power. This renewable energy will reduce the plant’s demand for grid electricity during the energy-intensive desalination process. GE’s Grid Solutions supports plants through its technologies and turnkey project delivery.
The plant, set to open in 2023, is the first in the Kingdom to integrate renewable power. It will be able to supply up to 450,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day to households in the two cities. It also incorporates water storage tanks designed to maintain a capacity of two operating days.
Yanbu-4 is being developed as a build-own-operate contract by the Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), as part of a consortium comprising ENGIE, Nesma and Mowah. The plant will be operated and maintained by ENGIE.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer of desalinated water and looks to reverse osmosis as an efficient technology produce potable water. The process pushes seawater under high pressure through fine membranes to produce drinking water.