Solar to power Dubai’s desalination plants

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The cost of water production is set to be reduced, thanks to the region’s efforts to integrate renewable energy into water desalination processes.

The region is dependent on desalination for its potable water, and has a total water production capacity of 470 million gallons per day (MIGD), but the process is energy-intensive.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is planning to power the region’s desalination plants with solar power, and save approximately $13 billion between now, and 2030, with a capacity target of 305 million gallons per day.

“Dubai is pushing for increased efficiency in the production of water. We are already in the final stages of a large scale integration of renewable energy in our water production processes,” said Jamal Shaheen Al Hammadi, vice president of Clean Energy & Diversification Business Development & Excellence at DEWA.

“Photovoltaic reverse osmosis will now become the new trend as we aim for 100% renewable energy desalination in Dubai. This supports our efforts to boost water production in the emirate.”

DEWA received five bids from Cranmore Partners from the UAE and UK; Synergy from India and the USA; Deloitte from the USA; PricewaterhouseCoopers from the UK, and Ernst & Young from the UK.

“DEWA intends to desalinate all its water powered by a mix of clean energy that uses environmentally sustainable energy by 2030. This means Dubai will exceed global targets for using clean energy to desalinate water,” said Al Hammadi.

Desalination plant operating on solar power

In 2016, Suez, (now ENGIE) launched a pilot 100 cubic meters per day desalination plant in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, as part of the utility’s drive to incorporate newer technologies.

“The plant has been successfully tested to run 100% on solar power. This is an important step towards achieving our goals and a major breakthrough in the region’s desalination,” according to Pierre Pauliac, Middle East chief executive for Suez (ENGIE).

“There is no longer any doubt we can now run a desalination plant on solar power. Our next step now is to take these findings and apply them to industrial scale desalination.

“I am very optimistic that in the next eighteen months we will have solar panels powering large scale desalination plants because we have tried it and it will work.”

Dubai expects more than 8% of its total power to be generated from clean energy by 2020.

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