UAE plans for Fujairah desalination plant to be energy efficient

A new desalination plant to be constructed on the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the next two and a half years is expected to be energy efficient and set a standard in the region.

The desalination plant will be built as a part of an extension of the Fujairah F1 independent water and power plant in Al Qidfa.

It aims to use about 3.7kWh to produce 1m³ of water.

ILF Consulting Engineers Generation managing director Corrado Sommariva was quoted by The National as saying that currently-operational plants in the region require 4kWh to 6kWh of electricity to produce one cubic metre of water.

"This project is really setting a new benchmark for energy efficiency," Sommariva added. "It is very rare for projects here to go below the 4kWh per cubic metre mark."

The Fujairah desalination facility, which is to be constructed within the compound of the existing Fujairah F1 plant, will have the capacity to treat 137,000m³ of drinking water per day.

The plant will use reverse osmosis technology, in which seawater is pumped through a series of membranes at pressures above 70 bar, equivalent to the pressure 700m below the surface of the ocean.

Residual high-pressure will be captured by special rotary devices once the water enters the membranes, and the generated energy will be redirected to the water pumping system, which will reduce the total energy requirements of the process.

The plant is owned by Emirates Sembcorp Water & Power, a company founded by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority in partnership with Singapore's Sembcorp Industries.

Once completed in 2015, the UAE government will buy water from the new plant at the most cost-effective price in the Gulf.

UAE produces over 90% of its potable water through desalination.

A consortium led by Acciona Agua has won the contract to design and build the desalination plant, while ILF Consulting Engineers will act as a technical adviser for the project.