How Desalination Created Modern Qatar

Imagine a country with abundant energy — primarily gas and oil — but lacking almost any drinking water (ground or surface), which is essential for the cities, infrastructure, and in Qatar's case, 2 million people and an annual economic growth rate of 15 percent. With complete clarity, Qatari infrastructure engineer Fahad Al-Attiya explains how desalination created the modern nation of Qatar.

While the country may be the poster boy for the water-energy nexus, desalination has transformed the entire region. The GCC nations alone have more than 45 plants churning out an astounding two-thirds of global desalinization capacity.

Of that global supply, according to DOHA News, the UAE contributes 35 percent, Saudi Arabia 34 percent, Kuwait 14 percent, Qatar 8 percent, Bahrain 5 percent, and Oman 4 percent, with capacity likely to reach 9,000 cubic meters per year by 2030.

According to Frost & Sullivan, by 2020, the Middle East could add an additional 39 million cubic meters per day of capacity, costing about USD 50bn.

Qatar's largest desalination plant

Recently, Qatar began construction on the country's largest integrated power and desalination plant just to keep up with the surging demand for water and energy. It will backstop, according to Fahad Al-Attiya, the country's meager two days of water reserves.

When completed in 2018, the facility will power 2.5 million homes, while also powering the 135.6-million-gallon-per-day desalination plant on the same site.

If you missed it, see ChEnected's recent article on the solar desalination plant going into operation in Masdar.  

How quickly will solar replace natural gas for desalination in the Gulf?