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Municipal Desalination Plant of the Year

For the municipal desalination plant, commissioned during 2017, that represents the most impressive technical or ecologically sustainable achievement in the industry.

Mirfa IWPP, Abu Dhabi

What is it?

A $1.5 billion independent power and water project supplying 1,600MW of power and 238,665m3/d of water through a combination of MSF and SWRO technology. 136,380m3/d of the water capacity is accounted for by new SWRO units, while the project folded in three 34,095m3/d MSF units installed by Fisia in 2002.

Who is involved?

The plant is owned by a consortium of Engie (20%) and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (80%). Design of the water plant was led by Suez, which will also operate the membrane facilities for seven years following commissioning. The lead EPC contractor for the project as a whole was Hyundai E&C.

What makes it special?

The project was the first in the UAE to deploy reverse osmosis on the warm, turbid and algae-rich waters of the Gulf, and the first to feature no new thermal desalination capacity. With a single plant, this project has more than justified Abu Dhabi’s foresight in pursuing new technological solutions for its water needs.

The unique design of the plant allows it to optimise energy usage, while reaching the highest performance standards even in the most challenging of desalting conditions. While DAF pre-treatment insures against the possibility of red tide intrusion, the two-pass hybrid membrane design allows for the live optimisation of permeate flows, delivering tailored water from high-TDS feed sources.


By cleverly incorporating existing assets into the design of the new plant, the project retained the synergies of the thermal power/desalination nexus, while pushing the boundaries of modern technology in one groundbreaking package. It is the benchmark by which all future RO plants in the Gulf will be judged.


Umm Al Houl IWPP, Qatar

What is it?

An independent water and power project at the Qatar Economic Zone 3 south of Doha, generating 545,520m3/d of desalinated water through a combination of MSF and SWRO technology.

Who is involved?

The facility is owned by Umm Al Houl Power, a consortium comprising Qatar Electricity and Water Company, Mitsubishi Corporation, TEPCO, Qatar Petroleum, and Qatar Foundation. The desalination plant was delivered by lead EPC contractor Hitachi Zosen, with Acciona Agua as the main subcontractor for the membrane desalination portion. UF and RO membranes were supplied by Pentair and Toray, respectively, with Fluytec cartridge filters and energy recovery devices from ERI.

What makes it special?

The SWRO portion of the plant alone makes Umm Al Houl the largest membrane desalination facility in Qatar. Despite the dual challenges of variable feedwater quality and subsidised thermal power, the commissioning of the plant in 2017 proves beyond all doubt that reverse osmosis is the technology of choice for forward-thinking desalination clients in the Gulf.

With extremely tight delivery deadlines and a scale and complexity that demanded multiple parallel construction schemes and an army of 16,000 workers on the ground, the commissioning of the plant less than two years after breaking ground is a truly impressive achievement, particularly in the light of the economic blockade imposed on Qatar in the later stages of construction.


A last-minute alteration to the project saw a doubling of the number of water storage tanks, resulting in a greatly enhanced supply buffer at a time when water security has become a crucial hot button issue for Qatar in the face of the political standoff with its neighbours.

The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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