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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Why Egypt should pay attention to Dubai’s new solar powered desalination plants

Why Egypt should pay attention to Dubai’s new solar powered desalination plants: Fears of water scarcity in Egypt are an increasingly urgent topic of conversation, with the government stepping up its efforts to safeguard our supply of Nile water after the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as well as promoting water conservation and improving our irrigation infrastructure. Now, a new development in the UAE may hold the key to easing our water woes. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has unveiled plans to build Dubai’s first solar-powered desalination plant, with the capacity of producing 120 mn gallons (approximately 454,250 cubic meters) a day of potable water by 2024. The plant will be able to store energy to operate at night, Bloomberg reports. The move is part of a plan to reduce power use and reliance on fossil fuels — notably natural gas — to produce electricity.

The UAE, like Egypt, is facing a looming water crisis. Population growth has put a particular strain on water supplies in both cases, but the urgency of our situation is further heightened by the construction of the GERD, which will inevitably reduce our water supplies from the Nile. Ambitious projects, such as the construction of a man-made river to go with the new administrative capital, will add additional strain, though the project has been widely praised. Our water deficiency of 54 bn cubic meters annually was a driving force in the government last year pledging USD 51 bn for water projects in the coming twenty years.

An industry boom? By the beginning of 2018, Egypt was producing approximately 250,000 cubic meters per day of water from desalination, but with plans for new plants to be built in Matrouh, North and South Sinai, that amount should increase to 700,000 cubic meters per day by 2021, according to Egypt’s Desalination Research Centre. An increasing number of companies — one of the latest being Elsewedy Electric — are now showing interest in getting into desalination. Now with our Emirati neighbors using renewable energy to power their new desalination plant, we hope this could this be the start of a regional industry trend.

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