About 884 million people in the world have no access to drinking water and many countries are either importing large quantities of food or supporting agricultural produce outside the country there by throwing food security outside the country. By 2025 this number will touch 4 billion. Can not imagine countries without water!! This is especially so with Gulf and MENA countries. As on today nearly 70 million tones worth of food grains are imported by these countries and the number is growing with exponential growth of population. Apparently this increase is related to lack of fresh water, groundwater as well as surface water in these countries. The rainfall is scanty and thus there is no source to recharge the aquifers. Many aquifers, to enhance the problem further, are trans-boundary in nature ad hence there is always war for water. As it has been said, the future war will be fought for water and not for power or territory. For example, the Saq Ram sandstone aquifer shared between Saudi Arabia and Jordan; the Umm er Raduma Eocene limestone aquifer shared between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. These are formation-waters and once the aquifer is emptied, no more water can be withdrawn from it. Here is a rat race!!! Wo will draw excess water to support their needs……not oly for domestic but for irrigation purpose? According to the world Commission on Water, the global demand for fresh water will in crease by 50% over the next 30 years from the present consumption. Several Gulf and MENA countries have put in place desalination plants to meet fresh water demand for domestic and irrigation purposes. But utilizing fossil fuel based energy for desalination is not a viable and economic solution. Fresh water cost generated by desalination is very expensive and normal person can not afford to purchase it. Further, this process emits large CO2 that is detrimental to the world. In fact countries are fighting for stabilizing CO2 in the atmosphere. A viable technology has to be developed to generate fresh water from the ses through desalination using energy that is cost effective and renewable and green. The Gulf and MENA countries have huge untapped geothermal energy source(s) that can be utilized for desalination. Countries like, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Eritrea, Kuwait, Libya, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain can use geothermal energy for desalination process there by controlling CO2 emissions from the desalination plants as well as from the power plants. Thus the future of the above countries depends on the availability of fresh water.
Agriculture, for example contributes 3% to the GDP of these countries, and because of lack of water, food imports in these countries have increased from 30 million tonnes in 2000 to greater than 70 million tonnes in 2010 and is poised to cross 100 million tonnes by 2020. For example, due to severe water scarcity, Saudi Arabia has increased its food imports from 1.9 in 2012 to 3.02 million in 2014. The annual per-capita water supply has drastically reduced from 3300 cubic metres in 1960 to less than 500 cubic metres. Not only for the Gulf and MENA countries, the entire world has to depend on sea for water. Geothermal energy is cost effective and by using this energy the cost of desalinated water could be brought down to < 3 cents / m3. Now that EGS is maturing with advancement made in drilling technology (plasma drilling will be the future technology) all the countries can be self-sufficient in food and water. Countries have to open and come out of its oil-gas glass house and start implementing new desalination process using geothermal energy. ( for more information read “ Desalination of Seawater using Geothermal Energy to Meet Future Fresh Water Demand of Saudi Arabia in Water Resources Management in J. Water Resources Management.