This article constructs a cost calculator to estimate the economic competitiveness of solar-powered desalination in Saudi Arabia. Solar desalination is defined as a plant that obtains solar energy from a closed system. This is done to focus the investigation on desalination technologies, rather than the efficacy of replacing conventional energy sources with renewables in an integrated electricity grid. The results suggest that current options for solar-powered desalination are not cost-competitive compared to incumbent technologies in Saudi Arabia. The article offers insight into where costs must decrease before solar technologies are economically competitive in the country. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.
Christopher is a former research fellow focusing on natural resource economics and energy policy. Christopher is a former research fellow focusing on natural resource economics and energy policy.