On October 3, 2023. A landmark agreement was signed in Dubai between the United Arab Emirates’ governmental body Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power. The subject of the agreement is the ecological desalination of seawater on an unprecedented scale worldwide. The project will be implemented between 2025 and 2026.
Giant installation in Dubai
The contract was signed for 30 years and assumes the implementation of the first phase of the Hassyan plant with an area of over 252 m2. Its goal is to increase daily desalinated water production from the current 490 English gallons (2230 l) to 670 gallons (3050 l) in 2026, and then up to 760 gallons (3320 l) in 2030.
The project is being implemented based on the Individual Water Producer (IPW) model, which means making the process independent of external energy supplies. The first phase, which is expected to increase seawater desalination by 180 English gallons per day (MIGD), will cost $914 million. Its implementation will make the Dubai plant the largest of its kind in the world. At the same time, it is noteworthy that the unit price of water obtained by DEWA’s desalination process is expected to cost just $0.36 perm3 – a world record so far.
Dubai’s current population is more than 3 million, and the growth rate in recent years has remained steady at 1.5 percent. Back in 2000. The Emirati capital had a population of just 907,000. citizens. Huge urban growth combined with rapid economic development throughout the country is increasing the demand for water in households, industry and services. With low natural freshwater resources, desalination is a necessity for Dubai.
Desalination of seawater based on solar energy
The process of removing sodium chloride from seawater is widely practiced around the world. In a study published 2019. In the journal Science of the Total Environment” global production was estimated at 95.37 millioncubic meters per day. At the same time, high energy consumption, which is overwhelmingly derived from fossil fuels, was identified as the biggest barrier to the process, increasing the level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
DEWA’s innovative endeavor aims to fundamentally reduce emissions and thereby reduce the burden it places on the environment. Desalination of Dubai’s seawater is to be carried out using solar energy generated by huge expanses of photovoltaic panels. The process itself is based on reverse osmosis technology (SWRO), whereby pressurized water penetrates the membrane, leaving all salts behind. After cleaning with sodium chloride, it is remineralized and disinfected.
SWRO is a highly efficient technology that produces water with high purity parameters and makes it possible to drastically increase drinking water resources in coastal regions. However, the pressure required to induce reverse osmosis requires a continuous supply of energy, which usually comes from traditional sources, so it negatively affects climatic conditions.
United Arab Emirates’ ambitious plans
The Arab solar seawater desalination deal is compatible with a number of ambitious environmental plans, notably the Dubai City Urban Master Plan to 2040. At the same time, the cooperation between DEWA and ACWA Power paves the way for the realization of the goals contained in the local Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Zero Net Emissions Strategy 2050. As early as 2030, all desalination in Dubai is expected to be based on solar energy and heat recovery, the so-called “solar power”. green sources.
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA, pledged to continue providing services with the highest levels of availability, reliability and efficiency based on state-of-the-art infrastructure and advanced technologies. According to him, the project will contribute to the UAE’s global leadership position in 2071, the country’s centennial.
ACWA Power CEO Mohammad A. Abunayyan, meanwhile, stressed that the Hassyan IWP plant will be the largest of its kind in the world at the lowest hydro tariff. He noted that he is proud of breaking more records, thanks to innovations and new technologies that improve water safety.