Saudi Arabia is one of the driest countries in the world, where water is a precious resource. Water scarcity can have a detrimental effect on food security, social stability, and economic development. To ensure that water resources are used optimally, the Kingdom has taken multiple measures as a part of its Vision 2030 plans, including employing new desalination technologies.
As the Kingdom’s economy grows, as urbanization increases, and the population rises, pressure on the water supply is rising. Droughts and desertification, which can render land unavailable for agriculture, are major concerns. In around 15 years, from 1987 to 2002, the Kingdom’s southwestern Jazan province lost almost half of its vegetation cover.
One of the key steps the Kingdom has taken to tackle water scarcity is employing desalination technology to acquire freshwater from seawater.
Like Saudi Arabia, many other countries in the region utilize desalination technology for their water needs. While desalination is not the only way to extract freshwater, (Abu Dhabi, for example, employs a technology to condense humidity in the air to get drinking water) desalination is certainly the favored approach in the Middle East. It’s estimated that the region has more than half of the global desalination capacity.
Critics of desalination point out that the process is energy-intensive and produces high levels of waste in the form of high-saturation brine. But the latest technology developed in Saudi Arabia allows for desalination in a more eco-friendly way.
The Saudi Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has been at the forefront of incorporating new technologies into the desalination process. Just recently, the SWCC set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest energy consumption per cubic meter of desalinated water – at just 2.27kW/h.
Saudi Arabia also has plans to use cutting-edge solar dome technology to make the desalination process even more environmentally friendly. As its name implies, it uses a large dome and sunlight to heat seawater and to produce freshwater. Not only is this technology carbon neutral, but it also produces less brine compared to traditional desalination technologies. One solar dome can produce as much as 30,000 cubic meters of fresh water in an hour.
Water scarcity is a serious economic issue that can affect multiple sectors. As natural groundwater supplies continue to deplete across the globe, many countries are looking for feasible and sustainable solutions to maintain a safe water supply. The Kingdom has already taken concrete steps to address water scarcity and has established itself as a global leader within the desalination industry by adopting eco-friendly technologies.