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Veolia wins $320 million water technology contract for UAE desalination plant

Veolia has won a $320 million water technology contract for world’s most energy-efficient desalination plant, enhancing water security in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

With a capacity of 818,000 cubic meters per day, the state-of-the-art reverse osmosis desalination plant will supply drinking water to 2 million people.

Through its subsidiary SIDEM, Veolia will engineer and supply key technology for the Hassyan seawater desalination plant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Commissioned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and ACWA Power, the plant will be the second largest desalination plant based on reverse osmosis (RO) technology in the world, and the largest desalination plant powered by solar energy.

Located approximately 55 kilometers southwest of Dubai Creek, the Hassyan desalination plant will have a capacity of 818,000 cubic meters per day (m3/d) — 180 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD) — providing a safe and reliable source of drinking water to two million people.

The plant will start operating in 2026, with a gradual ramp-up to full capacity in 2027. The project is part of a broader strategy to sustainably increase water desalination capacity, to help support Dubai’s increasing demand for water in domestic and commercial settings. The plant will also be the largest desalination plant powered by solar energy in the world.

The project will feature an exceptional energy efficiency performance, with an incredibly low energy consumption rate of 2,9 kilowatt-hours per cubic meter (kWh/m3). SIDEM’s extensive expertise in large-scale desalination, including the critical pre-treatment and post-treatment stages, has helped maximize the potential of RO technology in terms of energy efficiency, reducing the energy consumption of RO desalination plants by a further 35% over the past 10 years.

The plant is located near the Jebel Ali Wetland Sanctuary, a Ramsar protected site recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity as an ecologically or biologically significant marine area of international importance.

To ensure the uninterrupted nesting process of endangered turtles, construction activities have carefully been planned around the breeding season. Additionally, the plant adheres strictly to environmental laws and regulations in terms of composition, temperature and quantity of brine discharged, with discharge areas selected to mitigate any potential impact on the ecosystem.

Estelle Brachlianoff, Chief Executive Officer of Veolia, said:

All over the world, people are looking for solutions to climate change. The watchword is adaptation: at Veolia, we have solutions to act as a catalyst for ecological transformation, which is the thrust of our GreenUp strategic plan. This latest achievement confirms our leading position in water technologies. Our commitment to high operational and environmental standards has been the driving force behind our leadership in desalination for over 50 years. Our efforts have made the impossible possible, reducing the energy consumption of large-scale desalination to 2,9 kWh/m3.”

Advanced reverse osmosis technologies combined with Veolia’s extensive expertise in critical pretreatment and posttreatment stages, have reduced the energy used to desalinate seawater by 35% over the past ten years.

This new generation of plants at the cutting edge of energy efficiency is fully in line with Veolia’s GreenUp strategic plan, thanks to the accelerated deployment of solutions to preserve water resources.

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