Sorek Desalination Plant: 7 Impressive Facts

Israel’s own homegrown technology has led to the Sorek Desalination Plant being a world leader.

Israel is situated at the crossroads between east and west, a trading hub that is geographically blessed also has its challenges, particularly in the form of climate. Israel is an arid country with perennial water scarcity, reliant on disputed territories for water security, combined with an entrepreneurial population, the country is a natural hub for innovation in the water industry. Although not quite to the scale of some of the desalination facilities of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Israel’s largest desalination facility is an impressive achievement, equipped with curing edge technology at the forefront of the desalination industry. The innovation involved in the Sorek desalination facility was the inspiration behind this article which highlights some key facts about the facility and what makes it special and even unique.

The Sorek desalination plant is the largest in Israel and the sixth largest in the world. Utilizing 100% salt water reverse osmosis technology, the Sorek facility has the ability to pump out 640,000 m3 of fresh water per day, equating to 20% of Israel’s total water supply!

Often incorrectly stated to be the largest plant, this confusion is probably due to the facility once being the largest 100% reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world, before recently being overtaken by both the UAE’s Taweelah and Umm Al Quwain reverse osmosis desalination facilities.


The Sorek desalination plant produces an impressive 640,000 m3 of fresh water per day, enough capacity to cover 20% of Israel’s water demands, no mean feat when you consider Israel’s population of 9.2 million inhabitants! By far the largest desalination plant in Israel, the Sorek facility is also the sixth-largest desalination facility in the world.

If you are interested in reading about desalination facilities with a larger capacity than Sorek, take a look at my article Desalination Plants Around The World: The Ten Largest.


In a world first, the Sorek Desalination Plant utilizes a vertical arrangement of larger 16″ diameter RO modules rather than the more common horizontally arranged 8″ modules. The increased diameter enables a 430% increase in flow rate coupled with a smaller footprint from the vertical arrangement. The technical achievement of increasing the membrane diameter whilst not sacrificing longevity is not to be understated, previous difficulties of such an implementation such as the increased weight and general engineering requirements overcome by the vertical orientation of the modules, focusing the increased weight on the ground rather than across the length of the pipe.

Distribution & Location

Located just to the south of the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area, the water produced from the Sorek facility is interconnected with the larger Idrali water infrastructure, enabling it to be distributed to residential and industrial areas across the country. The Sorek facility is strategically positioned near the Mediterranean coast, enabling easy access to the seawater consumed in the desalination process from an intake pumping station located 2400m from shore.


Thanks to the vertical arrangement of the reverse-osmosis modules, the Sorek desalination plant takes up 50% of the regular footprint required by most RO desalination facilities, leading to decreased building materials and related CAPEX costs. The large 16″ reverse-osmosis membranes lead to a stark increase in flow rate over their 8″ counterparts, this increased flow rate leads to a reduction in fouling (impurity buildup) on the membranes which lead in turn to reduced maintenance costs. In terms of raw energy efficiency, in converting salt water to fresh water, the Sorek facility utilizes reverse-osmosis which is the most efficient technology out there, however, this is not unique, more the future of desalination. The key points of difference for the Sorek desalination plant from an efficiency standpoint are its reduced geographical footprint and maintenance costs thanks to its unique tweaks to existing technology of increased membrane size and vertical orientation.


The Sorek desalination plant is 51% owned by IDE Technologies and 49% owned by Hutchison Water International Holdings. IDE Technologies is a world-leading Israeli-owned desalination company with over 60 patents in desalination technology, including the vertical 16″ arrangement deployed at the Sorek facility. In my opinion, IDE has contributed more to the advancement in efficiency and reliability of desalination than any other entity on the planet. Hutchison Water International is a world-leading water treatment company offering integrated solutions for large-scale water treatment products, they offer start-to-finish project management, construction and planning as well as post-construction services like commissioning, maintenance and even operation.

Cost and Investment

The majority of the Sorek Desalination Plant was financed locally with Shekel-denominated debt.

The Sorek Desalination Plant cost approximately $500 million USD to construct and commission. This figure of $500 million USD is calculated from the initial prospectus stating that 80% of the project costs would be financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi, with 20% coming from shareholders over the period of construction. It was then stated in media releases that the consortium behind the Sorek facility had obtained $400 million USD from the previously mentioned three banking entities, thus leading to the figure 400 million/80% = $500 million USD total cost.

The financing was obtained in a two-tranche senior debt structure, an Israeli Shekel-denominated local portion, a Euro portion from the EIB and a flexible pro-rata payment structure from shareholders. The debt structure enables borrowing costs to be hedged amongst three currencies whilst taking advantage of the prevailing low short-term interest rates at the time.

Future Expansion

Although generally regarded as a separate project in its own right, the Sorek 2 desalination facility is due to be completed in 2025, The Sorek 2 desalination facility will utilize 100% reverse osmosis (RO) technology to produce 548,000 cubic metres per day (121 MIGD). Like the original Sorek facility, the Sorek 2 project is partially funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and if they can be considered the same facility, the Sorek 1&2 desalination consortium will become the second largest desalination facility on the planet behind only Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. If you want a succinct idea of the largest desalination plant on the planet I encourage you to read my article Jebel Ali, The World’s Largest Desalination Plant.

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