Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pushing ahead with plans to take on a pioneering role in the development of solar-powered desalination technology. Saudi Arabia will work with Spain’s Abengoa to develop the world’s first large-scale solar desalination plant, while the UAE and France’s GDF Suez will build a pilot desalination plant powered entirely by solar energy.

Riyadh-based Advanced Water Technology (AWT), a commercial arm of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), and Abengoa aim to build a plant at Al-Khafji City in northeastern Saudi Arabia with capacity to desalinate 60,000 cmd of seawater to provide drinking water locally. The plant is expected to cost $130mn and will be powered by a solar photovoltaic (PV) unit. (CONTINUED - 529 WORDS)