Desalination of Seawater using Geothermal Energy to Meet Future Fresh Water Demand of Saudi Arabia


The future economy of the Middle East countries (GDP growth) depends on the availability of fresh water for domestic and agricultural sectors. Saudi Arabia, for example, consumes 275 L/day per capita of water that is generated from desalination process using 134 x 106 kWh of electricity. With 6 % population growth rate, demand for fresh water from fossil fuel based desalination plants will grow at an alarming rate. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia’s reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity and generate fresh water through desalination using the same energy source is economically and politically unsustainable. This may lead to destabilisation of the global economy. However, Saudi Arabia has large geothermal resources along the Red Sea coast that can be developed to generate power and support the generation of fresh water through desalination. The cost of fresh water can be further lowered from the current US$ 0.03/m3. Among the gulf countries, Saudi Arabia can become the leader in controlling CO2 emissions and mitigating the impact on climate change and agricultural production. This will enable the country to meet the growing demand of food and energy for the future population for several decades and to reduce food imports.

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The authors extend their sincere appreciation to the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University for its funding of this research group No. (PRG-1436-08). The corresponding author thanks the Director Indian Institute of Technology Bombay for providing the facilities for this work.

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Correspondence to D. Chandrasekharam.

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Chandrasekharam, D., Lashin, A., Al Arifi, N. et al. Desalination of Seawater using Geothermal Energy to Meet Future Fresh Water Demand of Saudi Arabia. Water Resour Manage 31, 781–792 (2017).

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  • Desalination
  • Geothermal
  • CO2 emissions
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Food security