In 2013, Masdar launched a renewable energy desalination pilot programme to research and develop energy-efficient, cost-competitive desalination technologies that may be powered by renewable energy. The project was officially inaugurated during UAE Innovation Week in November 2015. 

Commercial partners included Abengoa, Suez, Veolia and Trevi Systems. They each built and operated small-scale pilot seawater desalination plants for around 15 months in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi. A fifth pilot was installed in October 2016 by Mascara Renewable Water. The Masdar Institute, now part of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, conducted five research projects alongside the pilot programme. 

The Masdar-led desalination project was sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Government, with co-funding provided by the industry partners. A Masdar report published at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2018 on the results of the programme found that one of the most promising solutions was solar-powered reverse osmosis, a technique where salt water is purified through membranes. This method proved to be up to 75 per cent more energy efficient than the thermal desalination technologies currently used in the UAE.

Project Info

Technologies Used
Solar-Powered Desalination Reverse Osmosis Membranes
Abu Dhabi
Project Completion Year
Pilot Program


Emirates Energy Award in Research and Development 2017