Desalination, water reuse discussed at IDA World Congress in China

The IDA World Congress 2013 Convenes at the Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 20-25.

TIANJIN, CHINA, Oct. 23, 2013 -- Officially convening at the Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 20-25, the IDA World Congress 2013 held an Opening Ceremony that featured dignitaries from around the world as well as the People's Republic of China and the traditional Ribbon Cutting and VIP Exhibition Walk Through.

Guests of Honor included Executive Vice Mayor Mr. Cui Tian Du of the Tianjin Municipal Peoples' Government; Vice Mayor Mr. He Shu Shan of the Tianjin Municipal People's Government; Minister for Water and Electricity, His Excellency Abdullah A. Al Hussayen of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Doctor Vivian Balakrishnan of the Republic of Singapore. Dr. Corrado Sommariva, President of the International Desalination Association, joined the Guests of Honor in delivering brief welcome remarks.

Invited speakers in the Plenary session were Madame Li Baochun, Executive Director, Tianjin Science and Technology Commission (TSTC); Dr. Yang Shangbao, Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC); and Mr. Mohammed A. Abunayyan, Chairman, ACWA Power International, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In his Plenary Address titled, "The Promise of Water Reuse and Desalination: the Challenges and Opportunity," Mr. Abunayyan began by commenting on the importance of sustainable water management to both Saudi Arabia and China.

Commenting on the bountiful economic expansion and population growth in both Riyadh and Tianjin, he noted, "Everything we have achieved in Riyadh and in Tianjin is dependent on our ability to continually use water more efficiently, that is increase GDP per cubic meter of water plus creating new freshwater resources beyond our natural endowment. Sustainable water management for the two cities is hence built on the foundations of maximizing water reuse and the production of freshwater, which both necessitate desalination expertise."

Mr. Abunayyan noted the looming global problem of providing freshwater to a third of the world's population who, by 2050 "will simply not have adequate supplies to support their survival let alone economic prosperity," he said.

Noting that desalination and water reuse offer an avenue to address this issue, he identified three main challenges to ensuring that desalination and water reuse become mainstream solutions: affordability, energy intensity and environmental impacts.

According to Mr. Abunayyan, there are three aspects of affordability that must be addressed:

  • The need to "bring down the production cost of desalination by a factor of 10 within the next generation, which will require working together to find ways of optimizing the water desalination value chain from finance and construction to storage and distribution with a conscious broadening away from our traditional focus on water treatment technology."
  • The ability of the provider to charge the real price of water. "There is the strict duty and obligation of not squandering a valuable resource because it appears to be free," he said.
  • Flexibility for locations that need desalination seasonally and sporadically

Regarding energy, he said, "If desalination is to serve one third of the world's future population, we cannot use such energy-intensive processes based on non-renewable resources. We must reduce our energy intensity and our carbon footprint, and also develop desalination processes using more and more of renewable energy. Renewable energy is of particular relevance to the desalination because, as the technology becomes progressively more cost competitive, it will deliver truly sustainable solutions to regions with ample sunlight and desalinatable water."

Speaking about the environment, he noted that, "If desalination is to become a mainstream source of water, then we need to transform our environmental performance. Renewable water needs to be seen as an asset and pillar in the green economy just like renewable energy."

"As we go forth, we can rightly be proud of being the catalysts in serving the most peaceful role of human endeavor, that of bringing water for life; social and economic development, and for avoiding local, national and regional conflicts as we serve and strive to make water available and affordable to the global village and offer great hope for the future generations that we can all do it together," he concluded.

With a four day Technical Program, industry-leading Exhibition, plant tours, IDA Desalination Academy courses and week filled with networking opportunities, the World Congress is widely recognized as the premiere event for the global desalination community. It will conclude on October 25.

About IDA

The International Desalination Association (www.idadesal.org) is a non-profit association that serves more than 2,400 core members in 60 countries and reaches an additional 4,000 affiliate members. Its membership comprises scientists, end-users, engineers, consultants and researchers from governments, corporations and academia. IDA is associated with the United Nations as part of a growing international network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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