Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) and Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power have started operations on the first phase of a major reverse osmosis water desalination plant in Abu Dhabi.
The Dh3.2 billion ($874 million) Al Taweelah independent water plant is now able to produce 454,600 cubic metres of desalinated water a day, which is 50 per cent of its total capacity, Riyadh-based Acwa Power said in a statement on Thursday.
The plant, which was connected to the Abu Dhabi network in December 2021, now provides 100 million gallons of desalinated water a day.
It will eventually hit 200 million gallons a day when it is completed by the fourth quarter of 2022, making it the world’s largest reverse osmosis plant, with a full capacity of 909,200 cubic metres a day, Acwa Power said.
Reverse osmosis desalination is a process of purifying seawater by using specialised membranes to remove solid substances and other contaminants.
"The potential emanating from water production through low carbon-intensive technologies is exponential and will ensure we continue to meet the water demands of Abu Dhabi and beyond," said Paddy Padmanathan, vice chairman and chief executive of Acwa Power.
The UAE depends heavily on desalination to supply water for drinking and industrial purposes.
Up to 42 per cent of the UAE's potable water requirement comes from about 70 major desalination plants, which account for about 14 per cent of the world's total production of desalinated water, government data indicates
Some the major desalination facilities in the UAE include the Shuweihat S2 power and water plant in Abu Dhabi, the Jebel Ali power station in Dubai and the F2 plant in Fujairah.
The UAE also has a Water Security Strategy 2036 that aims to ensure sustainability and continuous access to water at any time and condition.
In May, Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said that the value of investment in new desalination plants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Umm Al Quwain was Dh7.6bn.
The annual growth rate of the local water desalination industry is 3 per cent, he said.
The Al Taweelah plant supports industries and communities in the area and will also play an important role in catering to Abu Dhabi’s peak water demand, which is expected to rise by the first quarter of 2023, Acwa Power said.
Acwa Power has a 40 per cent stake in the plant, with the remainder owned by the government of Abu Dhabi through Mubadala Development Company and Abu Dhabi Power Corporation.
Abu Dhabi-owned Ewec will become the sole off-taker of the project under a 30-year contract.