Masdar in global alliance for carbon-neutral desalination process

Abu Dhabi’s green-energy company Masdar has join-ed a global alliance working towards a carbon-neutral desalination process.

The alliance was announced during a panel at COP21, including Saeed Al Tayer, vice chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and chief executive of DEWA, Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Masdar, and Paddy Padmanathan, chief executive and president of ACWA Power International, as well as officials from Veolia, Engie, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables. Courtesy Adco
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PARIS // Abu Dhabi’s green-energy company Masdar has joined a global alliance working towards a carbon-neutral desalination process.

Masdar and 80 other signatories at Paris Cop 21 — the Global Clean Water Alliance — have set a target to reduce greenhouse emissions from desalination by up to 70 per cent before 2035.

“It is an exchange of ideas. We want to see if we take these concepts and develop technologies how much emission we can mitigate,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Masdar.

“You need energy to desalinate but the question is, how much energy can you mitigate? Let’s say you can reduce it by 40 per cent, then we ask, ‘Can we use renewable energy to power the rest?’”

A report published by the UN in March this year showed that without action, the world will have only 60 per cent of the water it needs by 2030.

The Alliance is looking for solutions to reduce carbon emissions from desalination as global demand for drinking water continues to grow.

Dr Belhoul said there was already enough interest to attract more private and government members to the Alliance, which will hold its first official meeting of in Abu Dhabi at the World Future Energy Summit next year.

“If you want to find a viable solution it has to be with the public and private sector,” he said. “The first thing was to get the private sector on board and we will then extend it to governments.”

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has joined the fray.

“Today was truly an excellent initiative and for me the most important things are developing renewable energies and implementing efficiency. We have always said that,” said Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive at Dewa.

Mr Al Tayer said Dubai had projects that used waste heat to help power desalination plants, a concept that Masdar is further developing.

Masdar launched a groundbreaking pilot seawater desalination programme this month. It is aimed at significantly reducing the amount of energy needed for the process.

The project offers four solutions for renewable-powered, energy-efficient desalination.

“Today we said why not take this initiative and share it globally,” Dr Belhoul said. “Now this is the only initiative that is concerned with the water-energy nexus.”

Andrea Watson, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory researcher in the US, said that by joining the alliance the signatories would be able to address the water-energy mix together.

“The point I want to emphasise is that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a huge R&D and we do want to bring innovative technologies to the table,” she said.

“We need to look at both the infrastructure for water and the infrastructure for energy, and how we operate our water and energy together. We can apply more energy efficiency than we are doing right now, and best practices are important.”

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