Saudi Arabia’s Water & Electricity Company (WEC) signed contracts with a consortium of India’s Synergy Consulting, the UK’s Clifford Chance and Germany’s Fichtner for transaction advisory on two independent water projects (IWPs).

The projects are the solar desalination plant, Khafji IWP and an expansion of Shuaibah IWP.

Khafji IWP is already under construction, but will be converted to a private project. It will have 60,000 cubic metres a day of reverse osmosis desalination capacity, alongside a 20MW solar plant. The plant will feed back into the grid during the day, and take energy from the grid at night, aiming for zero net consumption.

It is the world’s first utility-scale solar desalination project.

MEED reported in January 2016 that local Advanced Water Technology (Taqnia) would own and operate the plant, while the Saline Water Conversion Company would buy the desalinated water.

WEC awarded the original Shuaibah IWP to a consortium led by local Acwa Power in 2007 with a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres a day. The size of the planned expansion has not yet been released.

Saudi Arabia is returning to the private power and water model as part of the National Transformation Programme, which aims to diversify the Saudi economy and increase private sector investment. The plan also includes the sale of existing water and power assets.