SPARK to Launch Organic Fertilization to Lock Humidity in Saudi Arabia’s Sands
With the launch of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, which will witness the holding of the largest regional gathering in support of the two Saudi initiatives - the Green Middle East and Green Saudi Arabia - the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is emerging as a sustainable global energy center in the east of the Kingdom, with the vision of becoming a regional gateway for logistics services in the energy sector.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, SPARK Chairman and CEO Saif Al-Qahtani revealed a number of initiatives and future plans to minimize environmental impacts and achieve maximum benefits from green investment, by providing world-class infrastructure in the refining, petrochemical, electric power and water production industries.
Al-Qahtani said that work was underway to develop an industrial zone, a business district, a residential and commercial district and a training zone, in addition to the dry port and logistics services area, which stretches over an area of 3 square kilometers and includes warehouses, modern storage facilities and a customs clearance area.
With the rapid progress of the mega project, the environmentally friendly and sustainable building techniques and advanced materials adopted by SPARK will ensure that the environmental impacts are minimized and the maximum benefit is achieved, by creating opportunities and reducing operational costs, according to the CEO.
He added that SPARK sought to provide world-class infrastructure for global investors in the crude oil and gas industries, refining, petrochemical industries, electric power and water production and treatment, pointing out that the project is expected to contribute $6 billion annually to the GDP by 2035.
Al-Qahtani noted that the project would witness the implementation of transformational initiatives and practices, based on sustainability in line with the objectives of the Green Saudi Initiative.
He stated that SPARK sought to become an industrial city that supports the circular carbon economy and achieve zero emissions by 2040. He cited the lighting of city streets with thousands of solar lamps, which are powered by vertical photovoltaic cells and lithium-ion batteries to store energy during the day.
SPARK is expected to become an international model city that facilitates the development of sustainable energy and environmentally-friendly technical solutions, he underlined.
Al-Qahtani disclosed efforts to rationalize water consumption, noting that most of the water is reused after treatment. He added that the rainwater drainage system was designed in proportion to the natural terrain surrounding the city, to eventually pour into a natural basin located on the outskirts of the project.
Al-Qahtani unveiled an experiment conducted by SPARK to fertilize the soil with the Liquid Nano Clay technology, an organic mixture that locks humidity and essential nutrients when sprayed on the arid desert sands, thus allowing plants to receive the much needed resources that are often scarce in this type of soil.
According to Al-Qahtani, SPARK provides an integrated and flexible business environment through its advanced infrastructure and world-class ICT systems that support the success of investors and the growth of their businesses.
SPARK is committed to helping investors meet environmental, social and corporate governance requirements and standards, he emphasized.
“As part of a leading global ecosystem at the heart of energy markets... SPARK’s design provides investors with an easy access to global markets, as the joint venture with Hutchison Ports will provide a fully automated, advanced logistics area supported by a world-class multimodal dry inland port, warehouses, and support services,” Al-Qahtani said.
“Through its advanced infrastructure, readiness and integration of services, SPARK aims to support all investors, and help them document their participation in the project at every step,” he added.
He noted that, during the past three years, the city was able to attract a large number of investors and partners, stressing that 40 major companies in the field of energy and technology have started investing in the project.
In the coming years, the total direct investment in King Salman Energy Park is expected to exceed $3 billion, the CEO said.
Al-Qahtani stated that SPARK would encompass the largest dry port in the region with a capacity of 10 million tons, with all the necessary services to facilitate exports and imports.
He added that the dry port would be managed and operated according to the highest international standards, under a partnership agreement with Hutchison Ports, a global port operator.
In addition, Al-Qahtani stressed that SPARK supported a number of national programs that aim to increase productivity in the labor market and create more employment opportunities.
He noted that partnerships and agreements have been concluded with national universities, such as King Faisal University and Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, in line with the values and principles of environmental responsibility and improving operational efficiency.
The CEO of SPARK indicated that the project would adopt integrated sustainability practices, and its master plan has been developed to attract local and international industrial investors.
He added that SPARK was working to create a world-class city with industrial, commercial and residential assets that will enable its community to function and live sustainably.
Moreover, Al-Qahtani revealed that the city has launched a number of initiatives that enhance its international efforts to lead sustainability in the energy sector, including the use of fiber-reinforced polymer rods in bridges, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East, as well as the use of green concrete, which replaces almost 30% of cement in concrete mixes with recycled asphalt residues, achieving the same results in terms of durability while reducing the carbon emissions.