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Master plan on water, electricity on cards
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 04 - 11 - 2008

The Ministry of Water and Electricity is working on a strategy to integrate w ater and power sectors with a master plan in all fields of water, including underground, service water, desalination, sanitation and electricity, according to Fehied Fahad Al-Shareef, Governor of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC).
“The integration will also be there in electricity between the existing companies, IPPPs, companies that build power for compounds and cities, and cogeneration companies,” he said, adding that there is a study now, a national plan, which began some time ago with international consultants. He hoped it will come soon.
In answer to a question about hurdles and prospects in the way of a national strategy for power and water production, during the concluding day of the Fourth Saudi Water and Power Forum (SWPF 2008) here on Monday, Al-Shareef said Saudi Arabia was a vast country. “As such some areas are isolated where supplying electricity and water cause some delay and difficulty.”
He said the Ministry of Water and Electricity is having discussions with the SWCC, the regulator, the electric company, and consultants from the King Saud University and King Fahd University. “I hope it will be finished within three to four years,” he said, and explained that the SWCC does not build any desalination plant without coordination with the ministry, the electricity company, and the regulator.
The Water and Electricity Company (WEC) is working on a national grid to connect all areas. It is not completed yet. Connections have been made between Riyadh and the Eastern Province, Riyadh and Qassim, and Qassim and Hail. Now work is on for connecting Qassim and Madina, and then Jeddah with the Central Region.
The other difficulty is posed by the rapidly increasing demand because of development, boom in the economy, and population. “When a certain percentage of increase is predicted or forecast, you find you cannot meet that in one or two years because power demand is seasonal – low in winter, and high in summer – as you have to build, reserve only for a short period of time, a few months,” he said.
Al-Shareef assured that the master plan and the connecting of all the areas together, and also export/import of power between the neighboring countries, will help a sustainable development for the water and power sector.
Al-Shareef said King Abdullah City for Science and Technology (KACST) is doing a good job, and SWCC has an agreement with it to conduct research on desalination technology, and solar energy to use it in the production of desalinated water.
“KACST is in touch with the government and the private sector, the universities, and industry,” he said. – SG __

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