Desalination: Future for food and water security

Abu Dhabi launched two RO facilities with each capable of generating nearly 460000 m3/day of fresh water from the sea. By the end of 2021 the country will have the above quantity of water for the population. At present Abu Dhabi is generating about 4.5 million m3 /d of fresh water from the sea from 10 distillation plants. RO is relatively cheaper than MED or MFD methods. In he case of MED or MFD the energy consumed is about 12 billion units of electricity to generate a cubic meter of fresh water. It comes with a heavy price tag….CO2 emissions……..about 13 million tonnes. The cost is also expensive. For example, vacuum membrane technique costs US$ 0.53 per cubic meter of freshwater generated while it is US$ 1.22 per cubic meter. The most interesting information is: the desalinated water will be stored in an aquifer 80 m deep in Liwa desert. Future demand and fear of starvation due to water is making countries to innovate such methods…..”necessity is the mother of invention” is absolutely correct.
There is no doubt that future weapon for countries is going to be “water”. Countries with good water resources, or capable of securing water will be the most strongest. With water comes food security. “Water water every where but not a drop to drink” saying will be a history soon. Seas are going to be the future sources of water for the humankind. Countries will now make a policy to protect their seafront!!. This is true especially with MENA and GCC countries. Israel realized this way back and has the power now to sell arms!!
2 to 7 billion people in future will face water scarcity says the UN. The water industries are now geared up to work on technologies to generate desalinated water at affordable cost. But still what the industries can not control is the GHG emissions from the energy source used for the process. But, as man evolves so does the technologies. Geothermal energy is coming handy to beat water starvation. Unit cost of electricity generated through geothermal energy sources in future will be the lowest….less than 3 to 2 US$ cents and the desalinated water costs will be around 1.6 US$ for cubic meter.

For more information read: CHAPTER 5: Desalination of Seawater Using Geothermal Energy for Food and Water Security: Arab and Sub- Saharan Countries: in Renewable Energy Powered Desalination Handbook 2018