Veolia SIDEM to design one of the world’s largest energy-efficient desalination plants in UAE

SIDEM, a Veolia subsidiary specialised in desalination operations, will lead a consortium in charge of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) on the Mirfa 2 desalination project commissioned by Abu Dhabi National Energy company and ENGIE. Located in Abu Dhabi, this reverse osmosis (RO) desalination will be the third-largest desalination plant in the UAE. With a capacity of 550,000m3/day, this reverse osmosis desalination plant will supply drinking water to around 210,000 households. Worth around €300m in revenue for Veolia, the project calls for construction of the plant to start in the Q2 of 2023 and commissioning in 2025.

With Veolia’s expertise in water desalination, the Mirfa 2 plant will follow developments in environmental and efficiency standards for desalination, featuring RO, which represents efficiency gains compared to traditional thermal desalination. These technological advancements allow to slash energy use by 80% compared to the 1980s, when thermal desalination was predominant.

As most of the drinking water used in the UAE is said to come from the sea, thermal desalination plants mainly manage water consumption and compensate for the ageing of existing facilities. As the country has decided to increase its desalination capacity while reducing its energy consumption, this is a strategy that supports the country’s 2050 carbon neutrality ambition.

“Growing desalination capacities in a sustainable way is crucial, as they are a part of the mix of solutions needed to address water scarcity in the Middle East. With Mirfa 2 RO, Veolia raise[s] the bar for environmental and operational standards in desalination, contributing to the ecological transformation of the sector,” said Estelle Brachlianoff, its CEO. “This project follows the commissioning of four other flagship desalination plants in the past 18 months to bring drinking water to more than six million people in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Iraq. This achievement confirms our commitment to leveraging our expertise for innovation to deliver reliable, affordable and sustainable water access solutions.”

Desalination by RO, which is based on membrane filtration, is a technological solution in countries that use desalination to combat water stress, as it reduces their energy consumption.  

Abu Dhabi, UAE