Complex Made Simple

International Water Summit to explore innovative energy- efficient desalination methods

Next month’s International Water Summit (IWS) will offer the latest insights on groundbreaking desalination projects that are shaping the water industry and addressing water security in the MENA region.

Entitled ‘Promoting Water Sustainability in Arid Regions,’ IWS will examine the water-energy nexus and its long-term implications on regional and global food security. The exhibition and conference will take place from January 19-22 during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which is hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. IWS is also supported by Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, the Regulation and Supervision Bureau and Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company.

Experts say part of the solution to addressing water security is through the deployment of innovative, new technologies that increase desalination capacity, while reducing the energy needed to process seawater into potable water. Access to potable water is one of the most pressing issues in the world, particularly in the Gulf, where water production is a costly and energy-intensive process. However, by coupling renewable energy and cutting-edge desalination technology, the region can secure access to water sustainably.

Reverse osmosis (RO) technology, which uses uniquely adapted membranes to filter seawater, has undergone numerous improvements over the years. Today, RO is less energy intensive and more cost-effective than traditional methods, presenting a viable solution for efficient desalination.

“The desalination industry is shifting its emphasis from producing water regardless of cost to producing desalinated water sustainably,” said Dr. Corrado Sommariva, a director with the International Desalination Association, the leading global organization focused on desalination and water reuse. “As a consequence, there is more of an emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental impact. A key local example is the Masdar-led pilot program, which is advancing energy-efficient desalination technologies suitable to be powered by renewable energy sources. The program bridges the gap between promising technologies and large-scale, commercial applications powered by renewables. The GCC and MENA region has been relying heavily on thermal technologies, which are intrinsically more expensive and dramatically more energy intensive than seawater reversal processes,” said Sommariva. “Recently, RO has been gaining market share wherever reverse osmosis has competed with thermal technologies,” he added.

With wide participation from members of the global water community, IWS will feature a number of speakers and panels that address the current and future challenges of water availability and promote international collaboration on water governance. From next generation, cutting-edge technologies that enhance resource management and efficiency, to investment capital and policy reform, IWS illuminates the key global water industry issues, offering a holistic view of the challenges and opportunities faced.

Dr. Sommariva credited IWS with creating “a strong platform to spark innovation and encourage collaboration. The conference has played a critical role in raising awareness about the role of innovation to important parallel industries, such as power and wastewater management. I believe next January’s IWS will generate a new momentum and a renewal of consciousness about the overall industry objective of ensuring sustainable water generation.”

IWS is a key element of ADSW, which also includes the eighth World Future Energy Summit and EcoWaste, in association with Tadweer, Abu Dhabi’s Centre of Waste Management. The fifth assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency and the seventh Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards ceremony will also take place during ADSW.