Analysis

Umm Al Houl Power Plant: Water & Energy Security in Qatar

Overview

– The Umm Al Houl Power Plant is an unprecedented water security and energy project located 10 miles south of Doha, Qatar. Construction on the water desalination and power generation plant began in 2015, and the plant became fully operational in March 2018.

The plant was built by Qatar Electricity and Water Company, Mitsubishi Corporation- Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operating as a consortium, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation.

 

– The project aims to bolster Qatar’s water and energy efficiency, attract foreign investment, and spur economic development; key objectives of Qatar’s Vision 2030.

 

– Umm Al Houl Power Plant is one of the largest water desalination and power generation plants in the region. The plant generates 2,520 megawatt of power and 136.5 million gallons of drinking water per day, which meets 30% of Qatar’s need for power and 40% of its desalinated water [1] [2].

 

– Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) owns 60% of the Umm Al Houl Power Plant, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation own 5% each, and Mitsubishi-Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) owns the remaining 30% as a consortium [1].

 

Introduction

As a small state with limited access to natural freshwater resources, Qatar’s water and energy security is a vital component of its national security. Qatar’s population of 2.6 million people rely on an integrated water and power generation scheme to ensure access to drinking water and electricity. As Qatar’s population grows at an annual rate of 2.7%, Qatar’s desalinization capacity will receive a manifold boost by the completion of Umm Al Houl Power Plant.

The $4.6 billion Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project that was completed in 2018 will also augment Qatar’s water security by acting as a strategic buffer in the event of disruption to desalinization capacity.

Now one of the Gulf region’s largest water desalinization and electricity power plants, Umm Al Houl Power Plant is Capable of generating 2,520 megawatt of power and 136.5 million gallons of drinking water per day, satisfying 30% of Qatar’s need for power and 40% of its need for desalinated water.

Construction of the plant began in 2015, and the plant went online in March 2018. The plant was built by Qatar Electricity and Water Company, Mitsubishi Corporation- Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operating as a consortium, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation.

Umm Al Houl Power Plant is a key part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030. The project supports strategic goals of creating infrastructure to support economic development. It aims to develop the electricity and water utility sectors and increase foreign and local investments in both. The project site was chosen based on the availability of infrastructure, particularly water and gas pipelines and the salinity of the water near it.

 

Work on the $4.7 billion Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project began in 2015, with the initial phases that were slated to be done in 2016/17.

Strategic Water Reserve:

The Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project, which is the largest of its kind in the world, has a total water storage capacity of about 1,500 million gallons, a 155% increase from the current water storage capacity of 900 million gallons [3]. The current phase of the project will ensure water security until at least 2026, followed by future stages that will meet water demand after 2036 by adding additional reservoirs. In its current phase of completion, the project extends the strategic water stock in Qatar’s water network from 2 to 7 days which will increase the capacity of water storage by 10 times.

 

Umm Al Houl Power Plant Operations

Umm Al Houl Power Plant generates electricity utilizing combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and desalinizes water utilizing both reverse osmosis (RO) technology and multiple stage flash (MSF) technology (See Figure 3 for a comparison of water production technologies).

In 2014, Qatar General Electricity & Water Authority identified that Qatar faced a potential shortfall of power and water production in the short to medium term, 2016 for water and 2017 for power. This projection drove urgent demand for Umm Al Houl Power Plant.

The plant now produces 2,520 Mega Watts of electricity and 136 million gallons of water per day. This is a 22% increase in the current electricity output and a 25% increase in water production.

Careful attention was given to environmental concerns during the planning and construction phases of the project. Extensive marine surveys undertaken at the site considered water quality, in-situ habitats and flora/fauna and sediment quality. All laboratory testing was undertaken at a nationally accredited laboratory using internationally standardized testing methodologies [1].

Umm Al Houl Power Plant marks the first instance of large-scale reverse osmosis (RO) to desalinate water for drinking in Qatar. RO technology utilizes methods that are proven to emit substantially less CO2 into the atmosphere. The system uses minimal power during the filtration process, making it a green system that conserves energy and the surrounding environment [4].

 

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[1] Umm Al Houl Independent Water and Power Plant Environmental Impact Assessment

[2] Gulf Times: “Amir opens Umm Al Houl Power Plant”

[3] Peninsula Qatar: “Amir inaugurates Water Security Mega Reservoirs Project”

[4] Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination: “Carbon footprint of water reuse and desalination: a review of greenhouse gas emissions and estimation tools”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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