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Masdar starts energy-efficient desalination pilot

|By Arabian Post Staff| Masdar announced the start of the operational stage of its pilot programme in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, which will see 1,500 m3/day of potable water produced over the next 15 months using four unique technologies that demonstrate commercially-viable and energy efficient solutions for renewable-powered desalination.

After launching the programme in 2013, Masdar partnered with four global industry leaders – Abengoa, Suez, Sidem (Veolia) and Trevi Systems – to implement the most advanced and innovative technologies in desalination as a key step to achieving water security and reducing energy consumption in the sector.

Masdar is facilitating real market opportunities for clean-tech solutions that are commercially viable, energy efficient and cost effective via the innovations being tested in this unique programme. Desalination is the major source of potable water in this region but traditional desalination techniques are energy intensive, costly and not sustainable in the long-term.

In the UAE, seawater desalination requires ten times more energy than surface fresh water production and demand for fresh water is projected to grow by 30% in the UAE by 2030. Outside of the UAE, the issues of global water scarcity, droughts and water pollution have become acute risks in many regions of the world. The technologies developed through these projects have the potential to be scaled up and exported to address sustainable access to water around the world. The project goes beyond traditional R&D and is considered RDT – Research and Development Transformation – allowing new technologies to be developed faster leading to accelerated adoption and implementation by utility service providers.

The projects are targeted to dramatically reduce – by up to 40 per cent – the energy intensity of desalination. Due to this low energy consumption, an estimated annual cost savings of US$94 million is expected from 2020 onwards, if 15% of Abu Dhabi’s newly built desalination capacity is met by the implementation of the demonstrated energy efficient technologies.

Masdar is rapidly extending its water leadership by partnering with the key players in the global desalination industry, as well as entrepreneurial newcomers. These partners were chosen in a competitive process launched in 2013. Each partner designed, engineered, constructed and began operating a separate desalination plant. This first stage of the operational portion of the programme concentrates on demonstrating energy-efficient systems on a small scale for at least 18 months. The technologies used in the programme have passed research, lab testing, modelling and prototyping but have not been used on a utility scale anywhere else in the world.

The four plants have been constructed on the site of a decommissioned desalination plant in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi Emirate. The Ghantoot site was chosen because of its accessibility to deep seawater. Two categories of seawater desalination technologies are included in the programme: advanced seawater desalination technologies – based on commercially proven systems that are being adapted to lower specific energy consumption; and innovative seawater desalination technologies – new-to-market concepts.