Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: With water security becoming one of the most imposing long-term challenges for many countries, the Global Clean Water Alliance – H2O minus CO2 launches in Paris as a collaborative global climate initiative and one of the key components to the Lima Paris Action Plan. The Alliance has an initial group of more than 80 signatories and was officially ratified on 26 November 26 2015.

As a founding signatory, Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, is encouraging governments; energy, water and related industry stakeholders – including laboratories and research organisations; universities and NGOs to join the Alliance.

With access to drinking water already a major challenge for as much as one quarter of the world’s population, and further forecasts predicting that by 2030, 47% of the global population will face water scarcity, The Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance – H20 minus CO2 is one of the few climate initiatives dealing with the water-energy nexus and climate change.

The Alliance’s goal is to seek solutions that will substantially reduce the projected increase in CO2 emissions from the desalination process, as global demand for drinking water continues to grow. The Alliance’s action plan could see a decrease in emissions from 50MTCO2 up to as much as 270MTCO2 per year by 2040.

The action plan includes obtaining amplified commitment by all Alliance members to use clean energy sources to power new desalination plants and to retrofit existing plants, whenever possible. Further focus is on improved energy efficiency of desalination processes, increased efforts on R&D and demonstration projects, better dissemination of innovative technologies, capacity building and analysis and formulation of adequate policies and regulatory frameworks. The concept note of the Alliance underlines that the initiative will ensure the sustainability of the entire desalination process is taken into account beyond the sole issue of energy sources.

“The government of the UAE has long recognised the potential impact of climate change on the future of the country and the region. The UAE was in fact the first country in the region to set renewable energy targets and has recently announced a commitment to increase clean energy to 24% of the country’s total energy mix by 2021,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar.

“Recognising our responsibility in helping to ensure water and energy security, Masdar’s association with the Alliance, clearly demonstrates our dedication to transforming the climate change narrative. As one of the most water-scarce countries on the planet, the UAE is investing heavily in cutting-edge technologies to improve the energy efficiency of the desalination process. This is an integral part of Masdar’s remit as we continue to provide a platform for the development and deployment of renewable energy and low-carbon technologies locally, regionally and globally – while creating a new clean energy growth-generating sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the greater UAE,” he added.

“IDA is proud to be a founding member of the Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance. We have long been a champion of environmental responsibility in desalination practices including lower energy consumption and an increase in the use of renewable energy to power desalination, resulting in the reduction of CO2 emissions. This has been a goal of IDA’s Energy and Environmental Task Forces, and we believe that the GCWDA initiative will bring us ever-closer to realizing this objective,” said Patricia A. Burke, IDA Secretary General.

“Access to water of the populations of the South and many other areas even in industrialized countries will be secured in the future due to renewable energy and innovation,” said Jean Louis Bal, President, Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables, France.

Masdar is leading innovation on water desalination through the development and activation of advanced and innovative desalination technologies with significantly enhanced energy efficiency. Masdar launched a groundbreaking pilot seawater desalination programme earlier in November, targeted to dramatically reduce the energy intensity of desalination. The project offers four viable solutions for renewable-powered energy efficient desalination, transforming the desalination industry into a more sustainable model that can be used across the globe. Phase one of the programme will concentrate on demonstrating energy-efficient systems on a small scale for at least 15 months. These technologies have never been used on a utility scale anywhere in the world.

Stakeholders from industry, research institutions, universities and other organisations from the following countries have already pledged support to the Alliance including: Australia, Belgium, China, Comoros, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and Singapore.