Masdar News

Masdar Awards Contracts for Advanced Energy-Efficient Desalination Pilot Project

04 May 2014 Press Release
Clean Energy

Four companies selectedto demonstrate next-generation seawater desalination technologies with goal tostrengthen the UAE’s long-term water security

Abu Dhabi, UAE – 5 May, 2014: Masdar today awardedfour companies – Abengoa, Degrémont, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems – withcontracts to each start the construction of a desalination plant as part ofMasdar’s pilot project in Abu Dhabi. First announced in January 2013, theproject aims to develop and demonstrate energy-efficient seawater desalinationtechnologies efficient enough to be powered by renewable energy. The newtechnologies are expected to allow the implementation of cost-competitivelarge-scale seawater desalination plants powered by renewable energy in the UAEand abroad.


The pilotprogram is a direct result of a call to action by His Highness General SheikhMohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy SupremeCommander of the UAE Armed Forces. The UAE’s rapidly increasing population and robusteconomic growth make the development of more advanced desalination innovations necessaryto address the country’s long-term water security.

“We lookforward to working with these four leading companies as they break ground onnew desalination technologies,” said HE Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chairman ofMasdar. “Seawater desalination is an energy intensive process that if leftunchecked will become unsustainable over time. We must innovate and discovercommercially viable solutions to meet our long-term water needs.

“Watersecurity is one of the most pressing issues around the world,” added Dr. AlJaber, “but with the Gulf region’s climate we have limited natural options.Combining best-in-class desalination technologies with our abundant solarresources is a logical step toward securing our country’s water supplies.”

Eachcompany, selected for the project because of their leadership and innovation withinthe desalination sector, will build and operate its own test plant to developand demonstrate desalination technologies over the course of 18 months. Thistimeframe will enable the companies to gauge which desalination technologies emergeas the most efficient and therefore have potential to be powered by renewableenergy. All of the four test plants will demonstrate innovations in advanced membranetechnologies, such as reverse osmosis and forward osmosis, which are moreenergy efficient processes than the thermal processes currently in use in mostof the desalination plants throughout the UAE. As part of the pilot project,each of the four companies will collaborate with the Masdar Institute ofScience and Technology – a research-driven, graduate university in Abu Dhabi.

The entire pilotproject test facility will be located in Ghantoot, 90 kilometers northwest ofAbu Dhabi. Masdar selected Ghantoot because of its easy access to deep seawaterand the availability of existing utility connections from a now-decommissioneddesalination plant. During the course of the project, the test plants will alsoprovide 1,500 cubic meters of potable water per day to Abu Dhabi’s waterinfrastructure, enough to meet the water requirements for around 500 homes.

Thedevelopment of energy-efficient seawater desalination facilities is critical tothe Gulf because the region accounts for 50 percent of the world’s desalinationcapacity. In addition, turning seawater into potable water requires substantialamounts of energy.

Theannouncement of the contracts was attended by H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak,Secretary General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi; Dr Salah Hashimi, Directorof Infrastructure and Environment GSEC; Nick Carter, Director General of theRegulation and Supervision Bureau; Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO Masdar; Carlos Cosin,CEO Abengoa Water; Pierre Pauliac, CEO Degrémont Middle East; John Webley, CEOTrevi Systems; Xavier Joseph, CEO of Sidem/Veolia Gulf Countries and Faraj El-Awar– Program Manager at UN Habitat.

Masdar’s awardingof these contracts to these companies was announced during the Abu Dhabi Ascent,a two-day, high-level meeting convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to encouragebold actions to address climate change. Hosting government, business and civilsociety leaders, the Abu Dhabi Ascent is designed to build momentum for the UN Secretary-General’sClimate Summit in New York, which aims to catalyze transformative action andbuild political impetus in advance of the 2015 UNFCCC Climate Change Conferencein Paris.

Masdar Staff