Masdar held a packed press conference late last week to announce its launch of three renewably-powered desalination pilot projects. On the last day of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said that existing desalination technology will continue to “play its role,” but added that the company will also explore ways to “harness natural resources, like solar, wind, geothermal.”
Currently, desalination accounts for a huge proportion of the emirate’s carbon footprint, one of the world’s highest per capita. 90 percent of the nation’s water supply is derived this way, which leaves the Emirate no choice but to find new and innovative solutions to water scarcity that don’t sop up the country’s own energy.
“The availability of potable water is one of the most pressing issues in the world, particularly in the Gulf region where water production is a costly and energy-intensive process,” said Dr. Al Jaber.
“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,” he added .
“Connecting desalination technologies to renewable energy enables us to capitalize on our abundant resources, such as solar, as a solution to improve water security.
Masdar is looking for technology partners for three trial projects that will run until the end of 2015.
Already 48 companies have expressed an interest to participate in the project, signaling the ubiquity of firms ready to deliver sustainable solutions to desalinating water in one of the world’s most water scarce nations.
The pilot program will include three test sites that will “try on” a host of different technologies for the next for three and a half years. The overall goal is to have a utility scale desalination plant by 2020 that will be powered by either solar, wind or geothermal energy, or even a combination of several technologies if necessary, says Dr. Al Jaber.
Masdar will soon issue a Request for Proposals for Technological Development to give companies an opportunity to submit co-development proposals to pilot desalination technologies in cooperation with the government backed renewable energy company.
As co-financers, Masdar will provide partners with access to the Masdar Institute of Technology and Science’s wellspring of advanced energy and sustainability researchers.
New, less energy-intensive water cleansing techniques could revolutionize Abu Dhabi’s desalination industry, free up important energy exports and provide residents a greater sense of water security.
Images by Tafline Laylin for Green Prophet