A desalination plant that runs on renewable energy is being piloted in Abu Dhabi, with the goal of commercialization by 2020.
Potable water is increasingly a pressing issue for the Middle East and desalinating sea water is a costly and energy intensive process.
"With the UAE's growing economy and rising population, it is crucial that we identify a sustainable desalination solution to meet our long-term water needs," says Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, which is in charge of developing renewable energy projects in Abu Dhabi.
"Connecting desalination technologies to renewable energy enables us to capitalize on our abundant resources, such as solar, as a solution to improve water security."
Under the pilot program, three test sites will operate for 3.5 years. By pairing state-of-the-art energy efficient desalination technologies with renewable energy, Masdar aims to significantly reduce energy consumption.
The program is making use of promising technologies being developed in universities and research centers around the world and large-scale industrial applications powered by renewable energy.
Half of the world's desalinated water is in the Gulf region, which has scarce potable waer resources. In the UAE, seawater desalination requires about 10 times more energy than surface fresh water production, and its costs are projected to increase 300%.
Masdar will issue a Request for Proposals for Technological Development inviting industrial players to submit co-development proposals to pilot in-house desalination technologies with Masdar. Partnerships will be co-financed by Masdar and benefit from technological expertise available from the Masdar Institute of Technology and Science - a graduate-level, research-oriented university focused on advanced energy and sustainability.
Masdar is funded by the Mubadala Development Company, the strategic investment company of the government of Abu Dhabi.