Workshop to focus on cost of running desal plants

Muscat - 

Running a desalination plant involves a host of issues like cost, research and development (R&D), regulatory framework and environmental impact. To discuss all these, the Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC) is organising an international workshop on ‘Desalination Costing Towards an International Standard’ at its headquarters on April 11 and 12.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Jauad el Kharraz, head of research, MEDRC said, “The major goal is to develop a process for normalising desalination costs to reliably compare costs from around the world. The main points to be discussed are: The best practices for reported desalination costs, R&D efforts for a lower energetic, economic, and environmental costs in desalination; regulatory framework and its impact on desalination costs; energy consumption and energy recovery systems in desalination plants (design, performance and economics); desalination capital expenditure and operating expenses and desalination project costs.”

Asked why there is a need for an international standard costing for desalination plants, he said, “There is such a need because there is no international standard to allow benchmarking and comparing costs of desalination plants, which is essential for decision makers (governments, ministries) and also for the operators (international and national companies responsible on building desalination plants or its operations). This information is not only of value for various decision makers, governments and institutions, it will lead to better investments in research and better prioritisation of investments through benchmarking.

“Such standard would also help companies come up with cost-effective solutions and competitive offers and would contribute to efforts to develop sustainable desalination technologies and reduce its costs.”

Dr Kharraz said that one of the most sensitive and critical aspect of any water project is cost.
“Membrane desalination or reverse osmosis (RO) desalination has experienced an overall downward trend in overall costs, and technological advances will continue to bring costs down even further. For RO desalination, decreasing technological costs, the drought-proof nature of the process, and producing superior water quality are among a number of significant reasons why this application is the water treatment technology of choice around the world.”

He said that there are two ways to think about the cost of desalination: The cost of a desalination plant, and the cost of water. “A typical large scale desalination plant produces 100,000m3 of water per day. Assuming a per capita consumption of 300lt per day, this equates to 300,000 people. The installed cost of desalination plants is approximately US$1mn for every 1,000m3 per day of installed capacity. Therefore, a large scale desalination plant serving 300,000 people typically costs in the region of US$100mn. The costs of infrastructure to distribute water must be added to this.”

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