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ABB technology to power world’s largest seawater desalination project

24 March 2021

ABB technology is being used to build the world’s largest desalination plant in Taweelah, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The USD 500 million development will have the capacity to process over 900,000 cubic metres of seawater per day, enough to meet the demands of over 350,000 households.

Approximately 45 kilometres north of Abu Dhabi city, the Taweelah project will be the first reverse osmosis independent water project in Abu Dhabi which will desalinate seawater for supply to local communities and industry in the area. It will also set new benchmarks for its size, efficiency and cost by utilising the lowest amount of energy per cubic metre of water produced.

As the world’s largest desalination plant, it is estimated to supply 909,200m³/day and is scheduled to become fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2022. The plant will play a critical role in meeting the region’s peak water demand, which is projected to rise by 11% between 2017 and 2024.

ABB is working with SEPCOIII, the EPC contractor of the plant, to ensure power supply continuity, boost system operational efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Challenged to provide safe, reliable and stable power supply to the operation of the seawater desalination equipment, ABB is delivering 30 panels of UniGear ZS3.2 medium-voltage switchgear and 250 panels of MNS low-voltage switchgear with digital capabilities. 

“We are very proud that ABB technology will be used at the Taweelah plant, which will contribute to the UAE’s goals of building a more sustainable, self-reliant and efficient water and energy sector in the country. When commissioned it is estimated this plant will meet water demand from more than 350,000 households. Water is obviously a critical element to a country’s prosperity and growth, and today on World Water Day we are happy to contribute to a building a safe, smart and sustainable future,” said Loay Dajani, Managing Director, ABB Electrification, Middle East and Africa.

In an electric power system, switchgear is used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment, in order to ensure uninterrupted power supply.  To optimise operations, the MNS switchgear delivered has incorporated intelligent devices with a data interface to enable remote operation monitoring and condition-based maintenance of the switchgear.

ABB has also delivered a wide range of low and medium voltage motors and variable speed drives to ensure reliable and energy efficient pumping in the plant. The ACS580MV medium voltage drives match the speed and torque of the motors to the pumping demand for maximum energy savings.

Speaking about the project, James Zhao, Lead Business Manager of Electrification in China said: “Power supply reliability and energy management are critical to long-term, reliable and efficient operation of many infrastructures around the world, including seawater desalination projects. We are honoured to work with SEPCOIII, a leading EPC contractor in the world, to provide leading power distribution technology for this iconic project in Abu Dhabi. As an innovative technology leader, ABB is committed to becoming a reliable partner for Chinese enterprises and achieving win-win cooperation in the global market by leveraging respective advantages.”

Since 1993, World Water Day is held on 22 March every year to celebrate water and to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. 

Across the globe ABB solutions are being used to increase access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation as well as drive more sustainable use of water across industry, in agriculture and in cities. For example, end-to-end solutions from ABB will help local water authorities track, measure and optimize water use in the drought-stricken region of Koppal in southwest India; ABB has improved the production capacity of the Al Ghubra seawater desalination plant in Oman, and ABB automation systems are being used to modernize an aging water distribution system in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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