|Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East: Alternative Strategies (UNU, 1995, 309 pages)|
|5. Solar-hydro power and pumped-storage co-generation in hydro-powered reverse osmosis desalination in inter-state development of the Jordan River basin|
By the year 2000, water-not oil-will be the predominant resource issue of the Middle East. The situation will be particularly acute in non oil-producing countries such as Israel and Jordan, where the renewable water resources such as fresh surface waters and groundwater will have already been exploited or will soon be fully developed.
Concerns over the global environment and the Gulf (oil) crisis associated with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 have improved our understanding of the importance of clean energy such as non-polluting hydroelectric power.
A solar-hydro scheme using the evaporation power of the Dead Sea and known as the Mediterranean-Dead Sea (MDS) canal scheme was proposed by Israel in 1980. The scheme, which would have multiple socio-economic and political ramifications, was intended to convey water from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea via canals and tunnels, utilizing the height difference of around 400 m to generate 600 MW of electricity. In addition, proposals were made to use the water for cooling nuclear power stations rated at 1,800 MW, and to investigate the feasibility of generating 1,500 MW from Dead Sea as a solar pond. Up till now there has been no presentation of the concept of sharing resources with riparian states and no effort at joint development. The MDS project was soon put aside, owing to strong opposition from Arab states and others and to confusion following the drop in world oil-market prices in 1984.
Major constraints to realizing the 1980 MDS project were:
>> Jordanian fears of environmental and economic effects-which may no longer be valid;
>> the failure to consider the concept of shared resources, including riparian rights to the Dead Sea, and the absence of any effort at joint development between the states-all of which could now be removed by linkage of the MDS and Al-Wuheda dam projects;
>> territorial questions on the West Bank-which, with cooperation with the Palestinians, could now be dealt with separately from cooperation in water development.
There have been several changes in the political situation since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990-1991 that may facilitate a comprehensive resolution of Israeli-Arab problems. This may make integrated development not only technically and economically feasible but politically desirable and urgent.
The objectives of this chapter may be stated as follows:
>> to delineate the strategic dimensions of water problems in one of the world's driest regions-Israel, Palestine, and Jordan-where the peace of the world has been at risk for more than forty-five years;
>> to evaluate the techno-political feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the proposed co-generation system for the MDS scheme, using hydro-power with seawater RO desalination to produce fresh drinking water for the interstate region of the Dead Sea;
>> to elaborate techno-political alternatives in the inter-state basin development master planning of the Jordan River system, by combining non-conventional alternatives with advanced water technologies;
>> to re-assess the much-discussed Mediterranean-Dead Sea conduit scheme, which has again been revived with the end of the Gulf war in 1992 and the international political drive for peace in the Middle East in 1993-1994 and an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.