Saudi Arabia keeps power and water market ticking

15 August 2018
Tenders for water desalination and renewable energy projects have continued to provide opportunities in a quiet year for developers

With 2018 not having offered the amount of work that developers in the region’s utilities sectors had hoped for, Saudi Arabia has kept the market ticking with tenders for a handful of water projects and the kingdom’s first two major renewable energy projects.

Most recently, the Water & Electricity Company (WEC) received proposals for the 600,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) Rabigh 3 desalination plant, and has invited developers to submit proposals for the 450,000 cm/d Shuqaiq IWP in early September.

WEC is also making progress with plans for the kingdom’s first public-private partnership (PPP) projects, with seven developers submitting proposals for the West Dammam independent sewage treatment plant (ISTP) on 31 July. Developers are currently busy working on proposals for the Jeddah Airport 2 ISTP, with bids due in September.

As WEC pushes ahead with tenders for water and wastewater PPP projects, the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (Repdo) opened commercial proposals for the kingdom’s first major wind independent power project (IPP) in the last week of July, receiving some of the most competitive prices for wind power in the world. Repdo awarded the contract for the first project, 300MW Sakaka solar IPP, under the National Renewable Energy Programme (NREP) in February.

Although the next phase of the ambitious 9.5GW NREP may have slipped behind schedule, the public bid opening for the 400MW Dumat al-Jandal wind project will inspire confidence that Riyadh is committed to delivering one of the largest renewable energy programmes in the region.

While developers are still waiting for news on the next major thermal power plants to reach the market, Saudi Arabia’s private water and renewable projects have offered developers opportunities in what has been a rather quiet year.

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