Desalination Plants Around The World: The Ten Largest

Dubai’s Jebel Ali is the world’s largest desalination plant, with a daily capacity of 2.23 million m³

Desalination is a growing industry around the world as rainfalls decrease in arid areas and populations continue to grow. One trend that has been noticeable over the last two decades is the construction of fewer large desalination facilities as opposed to many small plants. This got me thinking, what are the biggest desalination plants in the world? I did the research and came up with the list below and even included links to each piece of the original information!

Desalination plants are generally located in arid areas, preferably with cheap energy, which explains why the middle east is home to the 10 largest. Dubai’s Jebel Ali is the biggest, producing 2.23 million m³/day, significantly larger than other well-known plants like Ras Al Khair in KSA and Sorek in Israel.

1. Jebel Ali, UAE: 2,227,587 m³/day

Formally known as Jebel Ali Power Plant and Water Desalination complex, the huge complex consists of nine separate modules which extend for three kilometres down the coast of the Persian Gulf! This huge facility produces a staggering 2.227 million m³ (490 MIGD) of water per day. Like many other large-scale desalination complexes, the Jebel Ali facility also has an on-site power station to drive efficiency. In addition to being the largest desalination facility in the world, this power station that keeps the whole complex running is also the largest gas-fired power plant in the world with a maximum capacity of 9,547 Megawatts! Technically speaking, multistage flash distillation makes up 87% of the plant’s desalination capacity, with reverse osmosis making up the remaining 13%. If you are interested in reading further about this facility, I wrote a more detailed article specifically on the Jebel Ali facility that I encourage you to read: Jebel Ali, The World’s Largest Desalination Plant.

If you are interested in finding out more regarding reverse osmosis, multistage flash distillation and the various other desalination techniques, I have a succinct article on the topic that is worth checking out here.

2. Ras Al Khair, Saudi Arabia: 1,036,000 m³/day

The Ras Al Khair desalination plant is a massive facility producing the equivalent of 414 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day! One extremely impressive point about the Ras Al Khair plant is that the water produced is piped a staggering 535km to Riyadh where it serves the needs of 2.9 million people! Like the Jebel Ali Facility, The Ras Al Khair desalination plant also has a gas-fired power station which puts out  2400MW of power. The general breakdown of the plant is eight multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) modules and 17 RO modules. The MSF modules produce 70% of the daily output with the RO modules producing the remaining 30%.

If you are interested in reading more about the Ras Al Khair desalination plant, I encourage you to read my in-depth article about it here, including 9 interesting facts about the facility.

3. Taweelah, UAE: 909,201 m³/day

Located in Taweelah, Abu Dhabi the Taweelah desalination plant puts out 909,201 m³ per day (200 MIGD). Taweelah currently holds the title of the largest 100% reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world, with both Jebel Ali and Ras Al Khair having multistage flash distillation (MSF) as the predominant production process.

4. Shuaiba, Saudi Arabia: 880,000 m³/day

The Shuaiba Desalination Plant is located 120 km to the south of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, with a nameplate capacity of 880,000 m³/day (194 MIGD). Currently, this plant uses 100% multistage flash (MSF) to desalinate the water however as part of a green initiative there are plans in place to replace this with 600,000 m³/day of energy-efficient reverse osmosis (RO) capacity by 2025. This upgrade will reduce CO2 output from the facility by 45 million tonnes per year!

5. Umm Al Quwain, UAE: 682,000 m³/day

Located in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain, The Umm Al Quwain desalination is a recently finished desalination plant that is still in the final stages of commissioning before being commercially operating by the third quarter of 2023. With a nameplate capacity of 682,000 m³ (150 MIGD) of water production per day, Umm Al Quwain uses 100% reverse osmosis technology to desalinate seawater from the Persian Gulf.

6. Sorek, Israel: 624,000 m³/day

Alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Israel also features prominently on this list.

The Sorek desalination facility is Israel’s largest desalination plant and one of the largest 100% reverse-osmosis (RO) facilities on the planet. With a maximum output of 624,000 m³/day (137 MIGD), Sorek is behind only Umm Al Quwain and Taweelah in terms of RO capacity. Commissioned in 2013, the Sorek desalination plant provides water for 20% of Israel’s 9.2 million inhabitants.

The Sorek Desalination was a pioneer in the refinement of large-scale reverse osmosis technology, if you are interested in reading more I encourage you to look at my detailed breakdown here Sorek Desalination Plant: 7 Impressive Facts.

7. Jubail, Saudi Arabia: 600,000 m³/day

Located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, the Jubail 3A Independent Water Plant is a 100% reverse osmosis facility that puts out 600,000 m³/day (132 MIGD) of freshwater. Completed late in 2022, the project was initiated to improve water security in the surrounding area of Saudi Arabia.

8. Rabigh 3, Saudi Arabia: 600,000 m³/day

Technically tied in 7th place with the Jubail 3A Water facility on the opposite side of the country, the Rabigh 3 Independent Water Plant in Western Saudi Arabia produces an impressive 600,000 m³/day (132 MIGD) of freshwater. Commissioned in 2021, Rabigh IWP operates with 100% reverse-osmosis (RO) technology, similar output and technology to its slightly new counterpart Jubail.

9. Fujairah 2, UAE: 586,500 m³/day

Located between Khor Fakkan and Fujairah on the opposite side of the gulf to Dubai, the Fujairah 2 desalination plant produces 586,500 m³/day (129 MIGD) of freshwater. The plant is a dual process (MSF/RO) with 450,000 m³/day of water being produced via multi-stage flash distillation and the remaining 136,500 m³/day being produced via reverse osmosis. Due to its large energy requirements, the Fujairah facility also has an on-site 2000MW thermal power station.

10. Sorek 2, Israel: 548,000 m³/day

Due to be completed by 2025, The Sorek 2 desalination facility will utilize 100% reverse osmosis (RO) technology to produce 548,000 cubic metres per day (121 MIGD). Partially funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Sorek 2 facility will improve Israels’s water security alongside other large desalination plants in the country including Ashkelon, Ashdod, Palmachim, Hadera and its older brother, Sorek 1.,%2C%20Taif%20and%20Al%2DBaha.

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