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Red Sea signs ‘pioneering’ carbon-negative concrete deal

Red Sea Global resort Red Sea Global
Red Sea Global's luxury Amaala luxury resort will be powered by 100% renewable energy
  • Parties to trial use of product in Saudi giga-projects 
  • Deal is first in Middle East for Caribbean startup Partanna
  • Cement manufacturing accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions

Red Sea Global and Bahamas startup Partanna have agreed to trial the use of carbon-negative concrete and other products at the kingdom’s Red Sea and Amaala giga-projects.

The deal – the value of which is not disclosed – is the next stage of partnership between the companies.

As revealed by AGBI, the two began exploring ways in which Red Sea Global (RSG) could use Partanna’s processes in the kingdom towards the end of last year.

Partanna specialises in the production and use of carbon-negative concrete and other building materials. The company has developed what it calls a “pioneering” technology for making products that absorb, rather than emit, carbon dioxide.

Cement manufacturing is the second-largest emitter, accounting for at least 8 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Sustainability is no longer enough. We need to find ways to restore and regenerate the planet,” said John Pagano, RSG’s group chief executive.

“Green technologies such as Partanna’s carbon-negative concrete could play a crucial role in helping us achieve these ambitious aims and even going one step further to become carbon negative,” he added. 

Under today’s agreement, Partanna and RSG will trial various applications of Partanna’s technology over the next year, with a view to agreeing a long-term supply agreement for the company’s materials. 

Nature, Outdoors, SeaRed Sea Global
Red Sea will be home to hotels including Accor’s Raffles resort

Among the pilot applications will be the manufacture, delivery and installation of an initial 11,000 carbon-negative paving stones at RSG’s one million square metre landscape nursery, which is set to grow more than 30 million plants by 2030 to landscape Red Sea and Amaala. 

The longer-term vision is for Partanna’s building products, which include pavers, blocks and structures to support coral reef projects, to be deployed at scale throughout RSG’s projects. 

Partanna’s manufacturing process involves a combination of natural and recycled materials, including steel slag (a by-product of steel manufacturing) and brine from water desalination, a major activity in the Gulf. 

Its cement contains no resins or plastics and therefore avoids the pollution associated with traditional cement production, it claims.

“Partanna stepping into Saudi Arabia feels like catching the perfect wave,” said chief executive Rick Fox.

“It’s got the largest share of the world’s desalination industry – which is key for our process – and a construction boom that’s shaping the nation’s future. 

“It’s also not afraid to embrace big changes and fresh approaches.”

The deal with RSG would help Partanna tap into a billion-dollar opportunity in the construction-hungry Middle East and North Africa, where Saudi Arabia leads the way.

The value of giga-project related contracts awarded in the kingdom in 2022 grew by 103 percent to $24.6 billion from $12 billion the previous year, according to Meed Projects’ Saudi Arabia 2023 Outlook and 2022 Review

A separate Meed report shows that a combined $110 billion worth of project contracts are expected to be awarded in the GCC this year, with Saudi Arabia accounting for more than half of the total ($64 billion). 

Partanna owns the intellectual property rights for its technology and plans to grow the business by forming licensing partnerships or franchises with developers.

The company has held “encouraging” talks with companies in the UAE, Fox told AGBI in December, and is targeting at least one more regional partnership in 2023. 

He said today: “Our plan to pioneer groundbreaking technology solutions for the global coral reef development industry could set a new standard for marine stewardship.”

Land, Nature, OutdoorsRed Sea Global
The Ritz-Carlton Reserve at the Red Sea’s Nujuma will include a state-of-the-art diving centre

Red Sea is planned to become the world’s largest destination to run solely on renewable energy. Its five solar farms in phase one are 98 percent complete, with more than 750,000 panels now installed. 

Part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic growth plan, Red Sea and Amaala collectively span 28,000 square kilometres and are worth $28 billion.

The first phase of each is under way and due to complete by 2024, with the first tourists to be welcomed later this year following the opening of a local airport. The remaining work will take place over the next decade.

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