The installation of reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants has been on the rise throughout the world. Thus, the estimation of their capital cost (CAPEX) is of major importance for governments, potential investors and consulting engineers of the industry. In this paper, parameters potentially affecting the direct capital costs of brackish water RO (BWRO) and seawater RO (SWRO) desalination plants, delivered through Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contracts, were assessed. The assessment was conducted based on cost data from 950 RO desalination plants contracted in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and in five southern European countries. The parameters assessed include plant capacity, location, award year, feed salinity, and the cumulative installed capacity within a region. Our results showed that plant capacity has the strongest correlation with the EPC cost. Plant type (SWRO or BWRO), plant award year and the region of the RO plant were also found to be statistically important. By utilizing multiple linear regression, a model was also developed to estimate the direct CAPEX (EPC cost) of RO desalination plants to be located either in the GCC countries or southern Europe, which was then verified using the k-fold test.

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