Key 2022 sustainability projects

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for action to all countries, aimed at tackling their most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges. The following case studies demonstrate how ACWA Power is meeting the SDGs.

Developing the $8.5 billion NEOM Green Hydrogen Project, the largest of its kind in the world

Green Hydrogen Project
Impact on SDGs

Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable energy to power the electrolysis of water.

The project is the largest of its kind in the world and will stimulate new work opportunities and economic growth in NEOM and internationally.

The mega-plant represents a significant new industry in the country and forms an integral part of the NEOM masterplan.

Together with NEOM and Air Products, ACWA Power is developing the first large scale hydrogen production plant in the world. NEOM is an ideal location for the project because of its unique availability of wind, solar power and supplementary battery storage. This is critical to lowering the final cost of green ammonia to competitive price levels. The mega-plant, with a total investment cost of USD 8.5 billion, will integrate 4 GW of solar and wind energy to produce up to 600 tonnes per day of carbon-free hydrogen, to then convert to liquid green-ammonia to transport and export to the world. The project is scheduled to be onstream in 2026. Based on proven, world-class technology, the facility will be a cornerstone in NEOM’s strategy to become a major player in the global hydrogen market.

Leveraging our first mover advantage in the at-scale green hydrogen space, we are already working with governments to develop similar at-scale green hydrogen projects. We have signed MOU agreements representing billions of dollars with the governments of countries including Uzbekistan and Egypt for exploring opportunities to develop new green hydrogen projects in addition to starting long-term contract discussions with hydrogen offtakers in Austria, Korea and Indonesia.

4 core SDGs where ACWA Power has significant & direct contribution

8 supportive SDGs where ACWA Power can leverage its influence to reach SDGs

Partnering successfully with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Impact on SDGs

KAUST research into cost efficiencies in producing desalinated water will contribute to cleaner water consumption globally.

KAUST research into cost efficiencies in generating solar power will contribute to further replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.

KAUST is a leading educational institution in Saudi Arabia and ACWA Power is adding to the quality of its research and knowledge base.

ACWA Power has partnered with KAUST to pursue goal-oriented research aimed at achieving further cost efficiencies in producing desalinated water and generating solar power. In 2021, a Master Research Agreement (MRA) between ACWA Power and KAUST was signed to officially launch the ACWA Power Centre of Excellence for Desalination and Solar Power (KAPCOE).

The MRA provides the necessary foundation for long-term research, development and innovation by the ACWA Power and KAUST partnership. The centre aims to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies by providing a platform for testing water treatment processes — ultimately aimed at developing best-in-industry plant optimisation tools — and pursuing goal-oriented research on sustainability and cost efficiencies in desalination.

With this collaboration, the first pilot plants to improve the desalination process are already operational, while a solar PV pilot plant is under construction.

As part of its remit, the centre will also explore new cutting-edge technologies, such as world-class plant optimisation tools, biofouling, sensor development and evaluation, and processes to reduce carbon footprint. The centre will further prioritise research in water quality monitoring and system performance modelling.

While creating synergies through KAUST’s theoretical knowledge and ACWA Power’s market expertise, the centre will also invite other strategic industry partners to participate in the future.

In February 2022 KAUST and ACWA Power reached new formal agreements to improve seawater desalination processes further, as well as monitor and predict desalination plant operations.

Creating record-breaking desalination capacity at Rabigh 3 IWP

Rabigh 3 IWP
Impact on SDGs

Producing 600,000 m3 of clean water per day, and helping to increase access to safe and reliable water supply for communities in the Kingdom.

The project is a major infrastructure development that uses advanced technologies and innovation to meet the country’s water needs.

Designed to minimise its carbon footprint and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels in desalination by using RO technologies, energy recovery systems and advanced membrane processes.

Decent work and economic growth: Creating employment opportunities during the construction and operation phases of the plant.

Saudi Arabia is a water-scarce country that heavily relies on desalination to meet its water needs. According to the US-Saudi Business Council, about 60% of the country’s water supply comes from desalination.

The Rabigh 3 Independent Water Plant (IWP), developed by ACWA Power, is a large-scale desalination project that provides clean and safe drinking water to the residents of the Kingdom. It is a reverse osmosis desalination plant that can produce 600,000 m3 of water per day. The project has been recognised as the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination facility by the Guinness World Records™ in 2022 and has won the Excellence in Water Desalination award from the International Desalination Association (IDA). It currently meets the water needs of one million households in Makkah Al Mukarramah and Jeddah.

The Rabigh 3 IWP has had a significant impact in addressing the water scarcity challenges in Saudi Arabia, as well as bolstering the local community and the environment.

The project has enhanced the quality of life for the residents of the western province of Makkah by providing them with access to safe and clean drinking water and job opportunities.

Creating record-breaking, low tariff solar power at Sakaka PV IPP

Rabigh 3 IWP
Impact on SDGs

The project generates 300 MW of clean energy through advanced photovoltaic panels, which supply more than 75,000 households with green power and offsets over 430,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The project employs 100% Saudis, and ACWA Power is nurturing and upskilling young Saudis to become the next generation of leaders in the fields of water desalination and power technologies.

The project brings ACWA Power’s global technological and industrial expertise to the Kingdom to build the first ever utility-scale renewable energy plant, thereby diversifying energy sources and stimulating sustainable economic development in the Kingdom.

The project contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting over 430,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The project is a result of robust collaboration and a demonstration of the public/private partnership model that serves as a crucial driver of sustainable development in various developing countries.

Solar power is highly attractive as a renewable form of energy but it has been historically unable to deliver sufficiently low tariffs to justify large-scale rollout.

To solve this problem, ACWA Power undertook the Sakaka PV IPP project in collaboration with Al Gihaz holding company.

At a time when solar power tariffs were not competitive enough to support large- scale commercial deployment of solar power plants, ACWA Power offered a world record-breaking tariff of US cents 2.3417/kWh (8.781 halalas/kWh) at the time and was selected as the most competitive compliant offer from submissions made by consortia of eight local and international bidders. Sakaka PV IPP became the first-ever utility-scale solar power plant in the Kingdom and a benchmark for national and international companies to measure against.

The project generates 300 MW, enough to power around 75,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by over 430,000  tonnes per year. Sakaka PV IPP was developed as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) project, meaning that ACWA Power will operate and maintain the project for a period of 25 years, after which ownership will be transferred to the Saudi Government.

In addition, ACWA Power combated unemployment by creating new employment opportunities for Saudi youth. The Company is nurturing and upskilling young Saudis to become the next generation of leaders in the fields of water desalination and power technologies. The Sakaka PV IPP serves as a significant contributor to local employment in the Kingdom through 100% local employment in the Al Jouf region.

Localisation also involved raising the share of local contracts with domestic companies that meet international quality standards.

Improving graduate employability at the Higher Institute for Water and Power Technologies (HIWPT)

Rabigh 3 IWP
Impact on SDGs

The curriculum focuses on practical, topical themes related to energy and sustainability and the programme gives young people greater career opportunities.

According to the OECD, Saudi Arabia has a gap between tertiary education and adults who gain employment. According to its research, just 74% of adults who have gained tertiary education are employed.

To improve this, ACWA Power found that targeting students while they are young would ensure that they would continue to work after attaining university education. To this end, ACWA Power supports HIWPT, which strives to be the best training institute in Saudi Arabia in the water and energy sectors by creating career opportunities through innovative technical training.

In 2022, HIWPT launched female training programmes including one on reverse osmosis desalination, with 15 trainees, and ACWA Power intends to sponsor about 60 female trainees in July 2023. Other programmes will include renewables, environmental and climate change, water usage, health and safety, computer literacy and English language training.

HIWPT now has 761 trainees and has trained over 10,000 students so far.

Reversing desertification and planting 10 billion trees in Tashjeer

Rabigh 3 IWP
Impact on SDGs

Reversing desertification in Tashjeer is countering the negative impacts of climate change.

The initiative will provide local communities with an improved quality of life in a sustainable manner.

With increased urbanisation and industrialisation, Saudi Arabia has faced increased desertification of its environment, a challenge for this already arid country.

To address this problem, the Saudi government has identified the reversal of desertification as part of its Saudi Green Initiative policy. Objective 5 of the programme involves planting 10 billion trees and rehabilitating 40 million hectares of land within the coming decades.

ACWA Power has contributed to these efforts by engaging in an extensive tree planting initiative entitled ‘Green Initiative – Tashjeer’ in the Makkah province, western Saudi Arabia. In 2022, through subsidiaries Shuaibah Water & Electricity Company (SWEC) & Shuaibah Expansion Project Company (SEPCO), we invested SAR 1.6 million to plant one million seedlings of local varieties of trees across housing communities and football fields in the province.