Middle East/Africa

March 1, 2012

Desalination capacity to increase up to eight times in Cape Verde

The government of Cape Verde is planning to add a further eight desalination plants to boost drinking water capacity and meet booming demand from increased tourism, WWi has learned.

Situated off the coast of West Africa, the Republic of Cape Verde spans 10 islands and has become a popular tourist destination, offering a year-round warm climate and white beaches. While limited groundwater sources have been sufficient to supply the islands' 500,000 residents, increased tourist demand for water previously forced the government to invest into desalination capacity.

Speaking to Water & Wastewater International (WWi) magazine at the Water & Energy Exchange (WEX) in Lisbon, the country's ministry said desalination capacity could increase by up to eight times.

Sara Duarte Lopes, minister of environment, housing and territory planning told WWi: "We plan to desalinate more water for tourist and domestic use. We are trying to develop a system of desalination for every island, which is part of putting together the National Directive Plan for Water."

There are 10 islands in Cape Verde, with one uninhabited and the main island, Santiago already hosting a facility, suggesting that up to eight more facilities could be in the pipeline. Electra S.A., the principal water and electricity supplier in Cape Verde, said that in 2005 the facility on Santiago was supplying 1.6 million cubic meters of water through reverse osmosis technology.

Last August the Water Resources Group (WRG) announced it had been selected, through its joint venture company Blue Aquifer Group, to provide a 4,000 m3/day desalination plant to the municipality of Santa Catarina in Cape Verde.

The US$10 million deal will see WRG earning 49% of the water sales over a 25 year contract term and provide a service and maintenance contract.

"We need to improve the access of drinking water for people because of increased tourism. Cape Verde is a dry country and we don't receive a lot of rain. We have to manage the water we have well," said Lopes. She added that 400 million euros of investment will be needed over the next five years to improve the quality of water, infrastructure and wastewater. The environment minister referenced a $66.2 million grant signed from the US government's foreign aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), last year.

She said the country is also in discussions with the European Union and United Nations to secure additional funding. The desalination plans fit in with Cape Verde's aim to have 50% of its energy supplied by renewable sources by 2020.

Solar powered desalination in Abu Dhabi with brine evaporation

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) is more than two thirds of the way through a trial to construct 30 solar desalination plants across the Emirate. The pilot project launched in Umm Al Zamool aims to test solar desalination and each of the 22 plants built so far produces around 1,100 gallons of clean water per hour - approximately 6,600 gallons on an average day. Touted as "zero-carbon", each unit generates an average of 35 kilowatts per hour, making a total of 1050 kilo-watt/hour.

Each solar array measures 300 square metres at each site and this powers a pump that abstracts groundwater from a well. After a reverse osmosis membrane filtration, a subsurface irrigation system then pumps the clean water to a pond. The brine, or waste-water from the process, is pumped to a separate evaporation pond.

UF membrane solution contracted to Qatar Petroleum

Qatar Petroleum's Ras Laffan Emergency and Safety College (RLESC) has selected Pall's hollow fiber ultrafiltration membranes. The supplied system has been designed to filter 3,500 m3/day of treated sewage effluent that will be used for make-up water for firefighting training exercises. RLESC is situated on approximately 250 acres and was created to serve emergency responders throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Bahrain inaugurates largest RO plant in Middle East

The Al Dur Power and Water Company (Al Dur) in Bahrain achieved full commercial operation in February, the largest plant in Bahrain producing 48 MIGD of water and 1,234 MW of power. The plant will use reverse osmosis technology supplied by GDF SUEZ group's Degremont and has been touted as "the largest desalination plant with RO technology in the Middle East". The Bahraini Electricity and Water Authority is the sole off-taker of the plant output, as stipulated in a 25-year Power and Water Purchase Agreement.

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