Energy, Water and Food Security Nexus:
The Scope of Desalination with Renewable
Energy in the MENA Region
Bekele Debele Negewo
Water Resources Specialist, World Bank
Oman, February 22-23, 2011
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Overview of the challenges
 What is the World Bank doing?
 MENA Regional desal and RE Nexus
 Next steps
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MENA has the
lowest per capita
water resources
dwindling fast!
Australia & New Zealand
Latin America & Caribbean
North America
Europe & Central Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa
East Asia & Pacific (incl. Japan&Koreas)
Western Europe
South Asia
Middle East & North Africa
1000 m^3 / year
Annual renewable water resources per capita
Source: FAO AQUASTAT (2007)
a) Average annual renewable water
resources for MENA (2007) was 1,200
m3/capita, compared to 7,000 m3/capita
b) 14 out of the top 20 Water Scarce
Countries are in MENA
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c) Water scarcity will become a
challenge to growth
Water scarcity trend in MENA…scary!
Cubic meters per capita
Renewable water availability per
capita… projected to be less than
650 cubic meters per capita per
annum by 2050
Since 1950, per-capita
renewable water
resources have fallen
by about 75%
Source: Adapted from FAO, 2008
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…today’s water deficit in MENA is met by overexploitation
of groundwater and—to a lesser degree—by fossil-fuelled
desalination, but this is not sustainable…
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…reality is also that the scarce water is
managed and used less efficiently
1. Irrigation consumes 80% of water withdrawn regionwide
- Water use efficiency in agriculture is low (< 50%)
2. Losses are also common in water supply systems
- Leakages in the network are common (over 10-30%)
- High UFW (over 30-40%)
3. Pervasive subsidies in energy and water sectors
- Lead to overutilization of the scarce resource
- Financially unsustainable systems
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Climate change will exacerbate water scarcity
The combination of climate
change and population growth
are projected to reduce available
water resources per capita by 50%
in 2050.
Increasing water scarcity will
negatively affect
• Economic growth
• Public health and quality of life
• Food security
• Regional stability
Implications of climate change in the region include:
• Increased temp. and reduced overall precipitation
• Reduced average runoff
• Increased climate variability (longer dry spells and higher rainfall
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What does the future hold…..?
• Water deficit is projected to increase from 50 BCM per year today to 150- to
235 BCM per year by 2050, based on the level of water use efficiency and
wastewater reuse adopted, 2/3 times the physical volume of the Nile River
• Correspondingly, about 31 billion barrels of fuel is needed to desalinate about
150 BCM of water per year by 2050 (e.g., KSA today uses > 1.5 million bbls/day
for desal)…not sustainable
Environmental impacts/GHG Emissions:
• Which corresponds to 9.6 GtC (gigatonnes of carbon) of CO2 emissions per
year by 2050….not sustainable (global good)
And food security…?
• 60 % of food from irrigated agr. (21 Mha, consuming 251BCM+)
• In some areas, fossil groundwater is being exploited for irrigation…not
sustainable…rainfed plays a good role but threatened by Climate Change.
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Addressing the challenge requires multi-pronged
1. Demand side management:
a) Strengthen institutions to support a move towards more efficient
resource use
b) Support policies that rationalize demand for water services
c) Support investments in efficiency improvement
2. Supply Augmentation:
a) Introduce/scale-up technologies in desalination and reuse
b) Support innovations in renewable energy (e.g., CSP)
c) Support innovations in concentrate management
d) Support water quality protection and storage capacity, including
aquifer recharge…
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Desalination potential is on the rise in MENA
Forecasted Desalination Capacity (2008-2016),
12 MENA countries are in the TOP 20 globally. ..
and the trend is projected to continue beyond 2016
with more MENA countries coming into picture,
especially Egypt
source: GWI (2008)
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Rationale for Action….
• Water is scarce in the region, and getting scarcer with time…water will
become a challenge to growth…the trend is not sustainable
• Desalination on a larger scale has environmental and energy
implications (brine, GHG emissions, energy security)…should be
• Renewable energy (e.g., CSP) is possible, making it a feasible energy
alternative…MENA is also suitable for CSP.
• Countries in MENA are already leading the innovation and market
demand for desal:
 Some countries use desal water for 100% of their water need
 MENA countries are on the cutting edge of innovation in the combined use of
desal and RE, mainly CSP (e.g., Saudi and IBM)
• The region would benefit from cultivating the desert for a growing
population and economy, using the natural resources that are barely
tapped: desert land, salty water and solar energy, in order to ensure
sustainable development…but action has to start soon and on
large scale to benefit from economy of scale.
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What is the World Bank doing?
Contribute to the Strategic Objective: Cultivating the desert
for a growing population in MENA, using the natural
resources that are barely tapped: desert land, salty water
and solar energy  ensure sustainable growth.
Objectives of the MENA desal and RE nexus study:
 To gain a better understanding of the issues and options of
water supply and demand in the region, the scope for demand
and supply side management of water, and the scope for
desalination and renewable energy nexus, including
concentrate management;
 To provide more analytical tools to decision makers in the
region to evaluate the benefits and costs of the various options
to deal with increasing water scarcity, and make informed
decisions on the use of desalination, and the use of renewable
energy in desalination processes.
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What is the World Bank doing?
Launched in August/ Sept. 2010
21 countries involved
Study: two components:
Water availability and demand assessment
Desalination and renewable energy, concentrate
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MENA regional desal and RE nexus study
Water availability and demand assessment, including
Implications of climate change on water supply and demand
 water stress and options to close the gap, with associated costs—marginal cost of
additional water
Desalination and energy, with more focus on RE/ CSP
 review desalination technology ~ (feed water, energy source, location, etc)
 review the scope desalination with renewable energy (with a focus of CSP)
III. Concentrate management
review options to deal with concentrate, with associated cost
 review of environmental laws and regulations that dictate safe disposal of
IV. Case studies, including assessment of different financing modalities
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3-4 case studies looking at: tradeoffs of alternative sources of water, energy, and
concentrate management. The case studies will also look at the various alternatives of
financing modality.
Next steps
a) Case studies, what areas should be covered?
 barriers (policies, technology, financing,
environment, etc)
b) Where, which countries?
c) Financing modality (cost-sharing)
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Energy, Water and Food Security Nexus: The Scope of Desalination