UAE green energy pioneer Masdar has awarded four companies with contracts to each start the construction of a desalination plant as part of its pilot project in Abu Dhabi.
First announced in January 2013, the project aims to develop and demonstrate energy-efficient seawater desalination technologies efficient enough to be powered by renewable energy.
The new technologies are expected to allow the implementation of cost-competitive large-scale seawater desalination plants powered by renewable energy in the UAE and abroad.
In a statement, Masdar said it had awarded contracts to Abengoa, Degrémont, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems.
The pilot programme is a direct result of a call to action by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The UAE's rapidly increasing population and economic growth make the development of more advanced desalination innovations necessary to address the country's long-term water security.
"We look forward to working with these four leading companies as they break ground on new desalination technologies," said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chairman of Masdar. "Seawater desalination is an energy intensive process that if left unchecked will become unsustainable over time. We must innovate and discover commercially viable solutions to meet our long-term water needs.
He added: "Water security is one of the most pressing issues around the world but with the Gulf region's climate we have limited natural options. Combining best-in-class desalination technologies with our abundant solar resources is a logical step toward securing our country's water supplies."
Each company will build and operate its own test plant to develop and demonstrate desalination technologies over the course of 18 months.
All of the four test plants will demonstrate innovations in advanced membrane technologies, such as reverse osmosis and forward osmosis, which are more energy efficient processes than the thermal processes currently in use in most of the desalination plants throughout the UAE.
As part of the pilot project, each of the four companies will collaborate with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a research-driven, graduate university in Abu Dhabi.
The entire pilot project test facility will be located in Ghantoot, 90km northwest of Abu Dhabi.
Masdar said during the course of the project, the test plants will also provide 1,500 cubic meters of potable water per day to Abu Dhabi's water infrastructure, enough to meet the water requirements for around 500 homes.
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