The world's first solar thermal desalination plant has a Dutch touch
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) reveals an innovative collaboration with the Dutch company Desolenator B.V. to further support Dubai’s leadership in achieving net-zero sustainable desalination and water provisioning.
Innovative approach to desalination
Desolenator is a start-up company undertaking significant efforts and resources to build the world’s first sustainable solar thermal water purification technology system striving to solve the problem of producing water at low cost from 100 percent solar energy.
This public-private-partnership brings together a globally leading water utility and an innovative technology company, representing a powerful new way of working together to address the global water and climate crisis.
Under this partnership, a flagship pilot plant was installed at DEWA’s primary desalination plant in Jebel Ali. This community size plant is envisaged to produce up to 20,000 litres per day of drinking water from sea water. Its success would be a testament to the challenge of technically validating Net-Zero Carbon Emission desalination technology, which would have significant implications for the region and beyond. After the successful completion of this project, Desolenator and DEWA intend to establish a joint venture company with the aim of commercialising this technology.
“At Desolenator, we are working to forward thinking businesses and communities by helping to make them water proof today. We are delighted to have built a fruitful relationship with DEWA who have been a fantastic partner in supporting the deployment of this plant. To address the global water and climate crisis, we need new forms of collaboration between innovators and organisations and DEWA have shown a vision and support that stands as a great example for the world,” said William Janssen, CEO of Desolenator.
A step-change in traditional approaches
The United Nations estimates that by 2030, there will be a 40 percent deficiency in freshwater resources. 98 percent of our planet’s water is seawater and 70 percent of the world’s population live less than 100 kilometres from the coast. Worldwide, desalination is increasingly seen as one possible answer to problems of water quantity and quality that will worsen with global population growth and the extreme heat and prolonged drought linked to climate change. Yet, challenges around this industry remain today.
Despite a practically limitless supply of seawater, desalinated water still accounts for about 1 percent of the world’s fresh water. This is due to several challenges associated with traditional desalination processes today such as the high cost involved due to large fossil fuel energy requirements and the environmental impact as traditional desalination produces emissions of greenhouse gases from the large amount of fossil fuel energy used.
This partnership represents a step-change in traditional approaches; whereby energy requirements are met entirely through solar energy and combined with a sustainable thermal distillation process.
"The partnership between DEWA and Desolenator embodies the importance of fruitful cooperation between the public and private sectors to develop new solutions based on the latest technologies to meet the various challenges facing the main sectors. It is a new addition to our solid partnership with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, which contributes to strengthening Dubai’s position as a global incubator for innovators and entrepreneurs and a centre for testing and developing innovative ideas and projects that contribute to serving society and the economy at the local and global levels, starting from Dubai, the city of the future,” added Khalfan Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Future Foundation.
The formation of this public-private partnership was initiated under the Dubai Future Accelerator (DFA) programme launched in 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Dubai Future Foundation. The DFA facilitates partnerships between entrepreneurs, private sector organisations and government entities to co-create solutions and thus strengthen Dubai’s position as the hub for innovative technologies and entrepreneurship and position Dubai, as one of the world’s foremost future cities.
According to His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA, "At Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, we work in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100 percent of the energy production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. According to our plans, 100 percent of desalinated water will be produced by a mix of clean energy that uses both renewable energy and waste heat by 2030. We are pleased to collaborate with Desolenator to pioneer this innovative approach to desalination, as part of our Public-Private Partnerships under the Dubai Future Accelerator Programme."