Concentrating solar power for seawater desalination in the Middle East and North Africa

German Aerospace Center, Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany
Desalination (Impact Factor: 3.76). 03/2008; 220(1-3):165-183. DOI: 10.1016/j.desal.2007.01.030


The paper presents a long-term scenario for the demand of freshwater in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and shows how it may be covered by a better use of the existing renewable water sources and by sea water desalination powered with solar energy. Growth of population and economy, increasing urbanization and industrialization, and the rather limited natural resources of potable water in MENA are leading to serious deficits of freshwater in many parts of MENA. Modern infrastructure for water distribution, enhanced efficiency of use and better water management are to be established as soon as possible. However, even the change to best practice would leave considerable deficits, which are poorly covered by over-exploiting groundwater resources. Increased use of desalted seawater is therefore unavoidable in order to maintain a reasonable level of water supply. The desalination of seawater based on fossil fuels is neither sustainable nor economically feasible in a long-term perspective, as fuels are increasingly becoming expensive and scarce. Concentrating solar power (CSP) offers a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels for large scale seawater desalination. CSP can help to solve the problem, but market introduction must start immediately in order to achieve the necessary freshwater production rates in time.

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