The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has signed a partnership agreement with Dutch start-up Desolenator to build a carbon-neutral water purification and desalination system that is completely powered by solar energy.
The cost-efficient system is estimated to produce potable water at less than $0.02 per litre, the Dubai utility said on Tuesday.
It said the companies had already installed a pilot plant at the Jebel Ali power plant and desalination complex, which has a minimum production capacity of 1,000 litres per day.
“We are working to make Dubai a global model for clean energy and green economy by adopting the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and disruptive technologies," Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa, said.
Dewa's initiatives will help Dubai to "exceed the globally defined target regarding the use of clean energy in water desalination", he added.
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 comes from about 70 major desalination plants. These account for about 14 per cent of the world's total production of desalinated water, government data shows.
The Jebel Ali power station is among the major desalination centres in the UAE. Others include the Shuweihat S2 power and water plant in Abu Dhabi, the F2 plant in Fujairah and, more recently, the $797 million Naqa’a plant in Umm Al Quwain.
The UAE also launched the Water Security Strategy 2036 in 2017, which seeks to reduce total demand on water resources by 21 per cent, increase the reuse of treated water to 95 per cent and develop a storage capacity for more than 45 days in extreme emergencies.
Dewa's production capacity of desalinated water is currently at 490 million imperial gallons per day.
The utility has set a goal to ensure that 100 per cent of Dubai’s production of desalinated water comes from a mixture of clean energy — which combines renewable energy sources and waste heat — by 2030.
Dewa's collaboration with Desolenator is part of its participation in the Dubai Future Accelerators programme, one of the initiatives under Dubai Future Foundation.
"To address the global water and climate crisis, we need new forms of collaboration between innovators and organisations. Dewa has shown the vision and support that stands as a great example for the world,” said William Janssen, chief executive of Desolenator.
Desolenator, which has offices in Dubai and London, currently operates in 10 regions. Its company profile says it can purify any water source — including seawater, brackish and heavy-metal contaminated — into potable water, using 100 per cent solar power.
Its customers include the Belgian brewery AB InBev and the online travel agency Booking.com.