Proposal for a desalination plant

Date : 2000

A project description statement was required for the setting up of a solar desalination manufacturing plant in a Mediterranean country. The study was required by a North American company, interested in setting up a base for the manufacturing of such units for the North African market.


A site selection exercise was undertaken in conjunction with this study. The area required by such plant to cater both for the manufacturing and storage requirements was computed at 5,000m². The projected assembly unit catered for the fabrication of 24,000 solar stills annually.

Due to increased environmental awareness coupled with Europen Union Directives, various aspects had to be considered if the selected site was to be located within a member state of the European Union. Malta was considered as a candidate site in this selection process because it was then not part of the European Union. Its geograpical location and relative low salaries, compared to other countries in the EU and higher working standards than North African countries, were attactive incentives for the mother company.

Solar distillation was first suggested by Evans and Wheeler in 1870. The first plant was erected two years later in Las Salinas, Chile, and remained operational for four decades. Portable solar stills for boats and rafts were developed during the Second World War by the US National Research Defence Committee in collaboration with MIT University. Family units for remote areas were developed in the 1950s by the University of California whilst Brace Research Institute developed large-scale solar stills for the West Indies and Haiti. The only operational plant in Europe is in Portugal, namely Porto-Santo Island in Madeira.