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Powering the world’s most regenerative tourism destination


By Grant Suckling, Senior Project Director – Public-Private Partnership, at The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC)

At The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), we recently announced one of our most exciting achievements since we first broke ground at the site nearly two years ago. We’ve signed our highest value contract to date with a consortium led by ACWA Power to design, build, operate and transfer our utilities infrastructure.

This is our first public-private partnership (PPP), and it includes a number of utilities deliverables that support our commitment to sustainable development, but the jewel in the crown is the provision of 100% renewable energy.

A tourism project of this size, powered solely by renewable energy, has never been achieved on this scale anywhere in the world and to enable this, we are constructing the world’s largest battery storage facility, to ensure we can power our entire site using renewable energy 24 hours a day.

Our 16 hotels, international airport and additional infrastructure that make up phase one of the destination, opening in 2022, will all benefit from this new partnership.

First of its kind in the Middle East

There is a growing realization that tourism, along with many other human activities, needs to be far more sustainable, and even go beyond simply protecting what remains. TRSDC is leading the way in regenerative tourism to not only conserve our beautiful environment but enhance it for generations to come.

Under the agreement we will generate up to 650,000 MWh of clean energy annually, generated via solar panels and wind turbines, to supply the destination and other utility systems. The resulting saving in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is equivalent to nearly half a million tons each year.

Meanwhile, the battery storage facility (1000MWh) will allow the destination to remain completely off-grid, to support itself in case of interference from sandstorms, and will be powered by renewables day and night – when solar isn’t possible. 

The Red Sea Project is truly setting new standards in regenerative tourism with these facilities.  

Adapting for the better  

The contract signing itself embodies a step towards the future. As COVID-19 threatened to make our bid process for this contract untenable, we innovated our procurement process and developed an online submission and evaluation platform.

This was the very first online bid submission of this size and nature in the region – and it was a huge success. We needed to evaluate a significant amount of information and potential partners through our new system, and then distribute this quickly to key stakeholders. Our new and streamlined system significantly reduced the paper output in the contract tender process, demonstrating that TRSDC are always looking for the smallest detail to improve upon when it comes to sustainable action. 

Going beyond sustainability 

We are developing across an area slightly smaller than Belgium, which encompasses mountains and canyons, sweeping sand dunes, and even dormant volcanoes. The 28,000 sq km site also includes a pristine archipelago of more than 90 islands with colourful coral reefs and white sandy beaches. Looking beyond the natural beauty, we are responsible for some of the world’s last thriving coral reefs and other precious habitats including mangroves and seagrasses. These delicate ecosystems need to be protected at all costs, and our partnership with ACWA Power strongly demonstrates this commitment. Our aim is regenerative tourism that actively improves the environment through our development plans. We seek to show the world that development can be force for good.