MoU to build new generation of desalination plant powered by renewable energy

Veolia and partners will explore cooperation to build a state-of-the-art desalination plant powered by 100% renewable energy.

ENOWA, the energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary of NEOM, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese trading company, ITOCHU, and Veolia, a global leader in water, waste, and energy management solutions. As part of the MoU, the companies have agreed to collaborate to develop a first-of-its-kind selective desalination plant powered by 100% renewable energy in OXAGON, NEOM’s advanced manufacturing and innovation city.

The new facility, set to produce its early-water in 2024 will be key to realizing ENOWA’s ambitions to create a sustainable, abundant water supply for residential, industrial, and commercial use. The new state-of-the-art plant will use advanced membrane technology to produce separate brine streams thus enabling ENOWA to produce brine-derived products, which will be developed and monetized downstream. Brine, which is usually considered a waste output of desalination, will be used to produce significant quantities of valuable industrial materials that can be used locally or exported internationally.

Commenting on the MoU, Peter Terium, CEO of ENOWA, said: “Partnering with global leaders in sustainable water solutions is key to NEOM’s ambition to become a global benchmark for integrated sustainable water systems. At ENOWA, our vision is to create a sustainable abundance of life’s most essential elements, all in harmony with nature. We will be producing, treating, and reusing water in one of the most water-stressed regions in the world, through sustainable, innovative and integrated solutions. This new desalination plant is one example of the type of sustainable infrastructure and circular economy we are developing to meet our zero-carbon footprint and zero-waste goals.”

The new plant will meet the water needs of NEOM with a production capacity of 500,000m3 of desalinated water per day by project completion in 2025, approximately 30% of NEOM’s forecasted total water demand. In line with NEOM’s environmental goals, it will use advanced and innovative membrane separation technologies to produce water, as well as concentrated brine streams. This enables the brine to be classified as a product, rather than waste, therefore minimizing the plant’s environmental impact and redefining the entire business model for desalination facilities of the future. Brine generated from the desalination plant will be treated by ENOWA to feed industries utilizing High Purity Industrial Salt, Bromine, Boron, Potassium, Gypsum, Magnesium and Rare Metal feed stocks.

Kenji Otsuka, CEO for Middle East Bloc of ITOCHU, added: “ITOCHU is honored and proud to collaborate with ENOWA and Veolia to develop this landmark desalination plant in NEOM which advances the concept of Zero Liquid Discharge. With our global experience, ITOCHU will enhance our contribution to sustainable living in line with the Kingdom’s and NEOM’s goal of creating a decarbonized, recycling-oriented and innovative society.”

Pascal Grante, CEO of Near and Middle-East, Veolia, said: “Veolia is delighted to partner with ENOWA and ITOCHU to support the development of NEOM. The project is aligned with the circular economy model that Veolia aims to deploy in all its projects worldwide.”

This MoU supports ENOWA’s ambition to develop advanced green desalination systems and create future water solutions to tackle global water scarcity. ENOWA’s water team is changing the future of water supply through pioneering desalination systems and technologies. 

Gavin Van Tonder, Executive Director of ENOWA Water Sector, commented: “ENOWA aims to provide a blueprint for green, sustainable water production, management, and treatment, which can be scaled throughout the world. The technology developed as part of this MoU and used in NEOM to provide water could be exported to other countries to tackle global water scarcity.”

Launched in March 2022, ENOWA is committed to transforming nature’s abundance through design and technology by taking advantage of NEOM’s clean slate approach and establishing energy, water and hydrogen production and regulation using circular systems and sustainable economic framework, realizing substantial return on investment with zero footprint.