Ras Al Khaimah to build largest sun-powered desalination plant

Ras Al Khaimah to build largest sun-powered desalination plant
Richard Menezes addressing the IWPP Summit in Ras Al Khaimah
Published: 25 November 2013 - 7:05 a.m.
By: Utilities ME Staff

The world’s largest solar-powered seawater desalination plant will soon be established in Ras Al Khaimah and will entail an output of more than 22 million gallons of potable water per day and 20 MW of solar power.

This was announced by Utico Middle East, the GCC’s largest private full service utility and solutions provider, at the 2nd Global IWPP Summit, currently being held in Ras Al Khaimah.

Richard Menezes, executive vice chairman of Utico Middle East, said that the project would set the new benchmark for the desalination business model and will be the world’s greenest desalination plant with the least CO2 emissions. Utico earlier this month released the pre-qualification tender inviting bids for the IWP project, which will be co-developed by Utico and the winning bidder.

The new project will implement the most advanced reverse osmosis and filtration technologies and when operational, will push unit production rates down drastically. The reverse osmosis process forces seawater through a polymer membrane using pressure to filter out salt. “The GCC has an abundance of sunshine throughout the year and our aim will be to harness this free energy and channel it to UAE residents at extremely low cost,” Menezes said.

The solar plant venture is yet another major announcement by Utico. At last year’s inaugural Global IWPP Summit, it had announced an ambitious US$408 million (Dhs1.5 billion) coal power plant to be set up in Ras Al Khaimah. The venture sees Utico collaborating with Shanghai Electric, the world’s biggest coal power company, to generate 270 MW of clean coal power once complete in 2015.

“The new solar-powered desalination plant will complement the clean coal power plant project we announced last year,” Menezes said. “The two plants will together generate power and water while reducing CO2 emissions by more than 1 million tonnes CO2 per year. This is in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who has been the driving force behind environment-friendly ventures such as Masdar.”

The project also supports the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Bin Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who recently said that the greatest challenge of the 21st century was to build a sustainable society. Both these projects are designed to be sustainable with their unique business model.

The tender for the new solar-powered desalination plant will be announced next month. The project eclipses a similar project declared by Saudi Arabia recently by generating twice as much power as the Kingdom’s Al Khafji plant, whose output capacity will be 10 million gallon of water per day and 10MW of power once complete. It will also be larger than Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA) 10MW solar power plant inaugurated earlier this month.


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