Egypt Plans RE-powered Desalination Project amidst Swelling Water Crisis

Highlights :

  • Egypt has decided to build 17 desalination water plants powered by renewable energy, under a new $2.5 billion initiative, to tackle the severe water scarcity that the Arab country is expected to soon suffer from, according to media reports.
  • Each of the 17 plants planned by Egypt’s government will be built, owned and operated by the country’s sovereign wealth fund in partnership with a group of local and foreign investors, according to the fund’s chief executive officer, Ayman Soliman.

Known for its pyramids, Egypt has decided to build 17 desalination water plants powered by renewable energy, under a new $2.5 billion initiative, to tackle the severe water scarcity that the Arab country is expected to soon suffer from, according to media reports.

Desalination, which turns salt water into water that is fit to drink (most commonly though reverse osmosis), has largely been limited to affluent countries in the Middle East and has recently started making inroads in parts of the United States and Australia. These plants are expensive because of high energy costs.

Bloomberg has reported that each of the 17 plants planned by Egypt’s government will be built, owned and operated by the country’s sovereign wealth fund in partnership with a group of local and foreign investors, according to the fund’s chief executive officer, Ayman Soliman.

“Egypt is keen to build a sustainable technology base to control its destiny when it comes to water security,” Soliman said in an interview. The wealth fund targets taking a minority stake in all the plants alongside the winning bidders, he added.

Egypt, where water resources are limited, currently depends on the Nile River for almost all its fresh water, but a supply deficit has begun to be felt in recent time, which officials fear will be aggravated by a giant hydropower dam Ethiopia is building.

The much-discussed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the mega-dam threatening to leave Egypt thirsty, is just the latest challenge in the country’s water crisis, which has been brewing for a long time. Although the Nile River has served Egypt reliably for over a millennia, it now barely reaches the Mediterranean Sea. It is being unabatedly drained by exponentially growing populations whose needs have surpassed its capacity.

Of late, tensions have been rising between Egypt and Ethiopia, especially following Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s announcement in May that his country will build more than 100 small and medium dams across Nile in the new fiscal year in different parts of the country.

Anticipating more challenges in the future, Egypt has already begun building 65 desalination plants across six governorates comprising Matrouh, South Sinai, Suez, Ismailiyah, North Sinai, and the Red Sea. The total daily production of those is 750,000 cubic meters. Many of these plants will be commissioned this year.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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