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The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has awarded a $237 million contract to a joint venture for the construction of a desalination plant in Jebel Ali.

The joint venture includes ACCIONA Agua and Belhasa Six Construct (BeSIX), who will be responsible for the construction of the 40 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD) reverse osmosis plant.

Desalination: a secure water supply

The desal plant is expected to be commissioned by May 2020 and once in full operation, the plant will help meet the reserve margin criterion set for peak water demand for the year 2020 and beyond. Read more on South Africa's desal developments.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA, commented: “DEWA continuously works to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the water network, increase water flow to fulfil increasing demand for water in all parts of Dubai, and raise the volume of the emirate’s water reserves and support sustainable development.”

Al Tayer added: “This project is in line with our decoupling plans for water desalination and power production and water desalination using solar energy.

“The big projects launched by DEWA have contributed in reducing the production cost of electricity through solar energy on a global level, and we continue to decouple electricity production from water desalination to obtain 100% desalinated water using a mix of clean energy and waste heat by 2030.”

“This will allow Dubai to exceed global targets for using clean energy to desalinate water. Reverse Osmosis will help expand our production capacity to 305 million gallons of desalinated water per day by 2030.

“Eventually, reverse osmosis will produce 41% compared to its current share of 5%, so we will be able to produce 750 million gallons of desalinated water per day by 2030, compared to our current capacity of 470 million gallons per day.”

He added: “Also, increasing the operational efficiency of the decoupling process will save around AED 13 billion and reduce 43 tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030.”

Clean energy Strategy

DEWA explained in a statement that this new Seawater Reverse (SWRO) Plant is being developed as a brown field seawater desalination plant and associated facilities, with the selected desalination technology being Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO), two (2) pass RO, including pre-treatment facilities.

Al Tayer explained: “In line with Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 which aims to reduce Dubai’s carbon footprint to be the smallest in the world by 2050, we work to increase the efficiency of the water production plants through promoting PV panels and other solar technologies.

“To ensure this, we need to connect Multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) based plants to a centralised solar energy source such as the MBR Solar Park, so our strategy is to build production plants based on Reverse Osmosis (RO) which requires 90% less energy than that of MSF, making it a more sustainable choice for water desalination,” Al Tayer added.