Saudi Arabia has appointed the UK-based Solar Water PLC to build the first ‘carbon-neutral’ desalination plant in the city of Neom. The desalination plant will use concentrated solar power to heat a steel dome that boils the seawater.
Heliostats (mirrors) surround a 25 meter tall glass dome to reflect concentrated solar heat (CSH) to a metal grid forming the top half of a “kettle” heating and distilling seawater fed in by covered aqueduct.
Works on the desalination plant are expected to start in February and be completed by the end of the year. According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the cost of building the desalination plant is $0.34 (SAR 275) per cubic metre.
The desalination plant will use solar water dome technology, which utilises concentrated solar power (CSP) to heat a dome steel structure to boil the seawater, evaporate and condense it, and precipitate it as freshwater.
The brine resulting from the process gathers at the dome’s basis, which is then extracted and can be sold commercially, according to Solar Water’s website.
Neom CEO Nadhmi al-Nasr said implementing this type of desalination technology is evidence of the project’s commitment to support innovation and protect the environment. Neom will be developed on 26,500km² of land along 468km of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba coastline. It will also cross into Jordan and Egypt.
The plans include the King Salman Bridge that will connect Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Riyadh and Cairo agreed to develop a causeway linking the two countries across the Red Sea in 2016. The city is intended to be an innovation hub, with its own laws, taxes and regulations within an independent economic zone. For energy, the plan is for Neom to be entirely powered by wind and solar energy.