Providing Water to Help Create Desert Ecosystems

Hitachi solar-powered desalination plants provide fresh water in the remote Abu Dhabi desert regions


Providing Water to Help Create Desert Ecosystems

Hitachi solar-powered desalination plants provide fresh water in the remote Abu Dhabi desert regions. The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi are creating new habitats in remote desert regions, to help re-introduce the Arabian Oryx which has been extinct in the wild since 1972. Working with Hitachi to supply solar powered desalination plants to provide fresh water for drinking and irrigation for the new plantations of native plants.

Challenge: Providing drinking water for the Oryx in the desert

The Arabian Oryx Re-introduction Programme requires a constant water supply, in remote desert locations, for both irrigating new plantations and for drinking. Abu Dhabi Emirate is an arid region with no permanent fresh water source and little rainfall. Water can be pumped from deep beneath the desert, however it is very saline and requires desalination. This was a challenge, particularly because there is no source of electricity supply to run the desalination plants.

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Solution: Environmentally friendly solution for providing water in the desert

Green energy is a must in Abu Dhabi, therefore the best solution was to produce self-contained water desalination plants where everything is powered by solar energy. 15 such plants have now been constructed in remote desert locations.

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Next Dream: Creating a habitat in the desert where life can thrive

The Solar powered desalination plants provide a constant supply of fresh water with no impact on the environment. The Arabian Oryx plus other wildlife and plants now have protected areas throughout the desert where they can thrive and increase in population within their natural habitat.

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Hitachi Infrastructure Systems help the re-introduction of the Arabian Oryx

The Arabian Oryx has always been admired for its beauty and has been celebrated in Arab art and literature. Destruction of their habitat and excessive hunting, by people who coveted their beautiful long horns, caused their extinction in the wild by 1972. The disappearance of this magnificent animal from the wild represented a significant loss, both for the cultural heritage and the biodiversity of the Arabian Peninsula.

A successful conservation programme was launched in 1968. Since then captive breeding efforts have increased the population to more than 4500, most of which live on reserves.

The Arabian Oryx Release Programme started in 2007. It is overseen by the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and aims to reintroduce the Arabian Oryx into a number of large protected areas, where they can roam freely in their natural habitat. However to sustain the Oryx these areas need to have the food, water and shade.

We have a specific need for solar powered de-salination plants to basically help us with our relocation and re-introduction programmes for the Arabian Oryx. The Oryx have been extinct in the wild since about the mid 70's in the UAE and a number of animals were collected and brought together and we have quite an intricate breeding programme.

James Hilyard
Unit Head, Infrastructure
Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi

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