As $890 million water purchase deal has recently been agreed by two companies ACWA Powers based in Saudi Arabia and Emirates Water and Electricity co (EWEC). Both have signed the deal to the development of a reverse osmosis sea water desalination plant.
The plant will provide a staggering 900,000 cubic metres of water to serve the needs of 350,000 homes.
The deal has revealed that plant will be 44 percent larger than the worlds largest water desalination plant which the parties intent to “set new benchmarks” for the cost of water and plant performance.
The choice of reverse osmosis sea water desalination technology is critical in reducing the costs of water production significantly.
The goals are to build a more sustainable and efficient water and energy sector in the UAE. The planned project is scheduled to be fully operational in late 2022.
The question we at Water Consultants H2O Building Services have to ask is with the continuing demand for water in the UK increasing and some water supply companies applying for drought orders and abstraction from Rivers and Aquifers increasing to meet demand.
Why are we not investing in new technology such as desalination and abstracting sea water and treating the sea water using reverse osmosis.
We are an island surrounded by the sea yet we continue to draw more and more water from rivers, chalk streams and natural underground water sources causing damage to our environment.
What is desalination and how does it work?
Desalination is a process of purifying sea water into drinking water, its a brilliant idea and it works a treat in Israel and other far eastern nations.
There are many ways to remove salt from sea water.
Reverse osmosis is one way the sea water is forced through micro filters leaving the salt behind.
Then there is distillation which involves boiling the water and collecting the water vapor during the process.
Both of the above processes are expensive at the moment as they require a lot of energy and infrastructure.
Is the cost of the process the main reason why desalination is not used more widely?
Yes, but also there are environmental concerns also as the process of sea water abstraction can harm the fish.
There are also concerns that salinity levels in our oceans are predicted to rise which would increase the filtering and process costs as more energy would be needed.
There is a more general view that the only way desalination could be a good option to solving the water shortages in many countries is if renewable energy is used, then costs would be lowered and if environmental protections were put into place to protect marine life.
It is truly a fascinating subject but if the richest nations of the world worked together to find a solution to the ever increasing demand for water and worked on lower cost desalination then the advantages to the global economy of the world could be immense.