MA’ADEN and Glasspoint sign MoU to develop world’s largest solar process heat plant

Saudi mining company MA’ADEN has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Glasspoint, a leader in industrial solar steam, to facilitate a study to develop the world’s largest solar process heat plant at its alumina refinery in Ras Al Khair. Glasspoint said that once complete, the 1,500MW solar steam plant at MA’ADEN’s alumina refinery will help the Saudi mining company achieve sustainability goals by reducing carbon emissions by more than 60,000 tons annually. This represents a more than 50% reduction of carbon footprint in the refinery, and 4% of MA’ADEN’s overall carbon footprint.

The MOU was signed at MA’ADEN HQ in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by Riyadh Al Nassar, senior vice president of MA’ADEN’s aluminum business and Rod MacGregor, CEO and founder of GlassPoint, witnessed by Robert Wilt, CEO of MA’ADEN and Jacob Drejer, CCO of GlassPoint, the firm said in a statement.

Robert Wilt, CEO of MA’ADEN stated: “As the third pillar of the Saudi economy, we aspire to be a role model in ESG in the Kingdom. This significant development will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and bring us closer to our mandate of carbon neutrality by 2050. As the world moves towards green aluminum, MA’ADEN intends to help lead the way in this transition.”

Under the terms of the arrangement, MA’ADEN and GlassPoint will work together to develop a more sustainable way to produce aluminium, which is a crucial metal for many global industries and the energy transition. This MOU also represents GlassPoint’s re-emergence as a leader in solar process heat, the statement added.

Riyadh Al Nassar, SVP Aluminium SBU of MA’ADEN added, “The proposed new facility, a solar thermal plant known as MA’ADEN Solar 1, will be located in Ras al Khair, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and will harness the power of the sun to produce steam. The steam will be used to refine bauxite ore into alumina. Alumina is a critical feedstock to aluminium, which is one of the world’s most crucial metals for many global industries going into a future that is focused on environment and sustainability.”

“MA’ADEN is leading the way to reduce industrial carbon emissions at scale by replacing fossil fuels with solar power to create heat. This facility when built will be the largest industrial solar steam plant in the world and the first deployed in both Saudi Arabia and in the aluminum supply chain,” said Rod MacGregor, CEO and founder of GlassPoint.

“With this MOU, GlassPoint is entering a new phase of growth to help decarbonise a range of industries seeking to lower their carbon footprint,” he commented.

As a global energy producer, Saudi Arabia is committed to advancing the fight against climate change. The Kingdom has unveiled the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) to help the country become an international leader in sustainability. Last year, the SGI unveiled a first wave of more than 60 initiatives, amounting to a $186bn investment to accelerate the green economy across Saudi Arabia and beyond.

In recent years, countries across the GCC have sought to diversify their energy mix with clean energy sources. Late in 2018, GlassPoint signed a MoU with Occidental of Oman for a 2GW solar project, while in April 2021, a L&T business unit won an EPC contract for a 1.5GW solar PV plant in the Riyadh Province. Earlier this year, in May 2022, EWEC invited EOIs for a 1,500MW solar PV project in Abu Dhabi.

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