Water shortage is one of the most crucial challenges worldwide, especially in the Middle Eastern countries, with high population and low freshwater resources. Considering this point and the increasing popularity of solar stills desalination systems, as the contribution, this study aims at finding the geographical preference for installation of those technologies in Iran, which is one of the biggest and most populated countries in the Middle East. For this purpose, from each climatic zone of Iran, one representative city is chosen, and analytical hierarchy process (AHP), as one of the most powerful tools for systematic decision-making, is applied. Annual fresh water production (AFWP) from the technical aspect, energy payback period (EPBP) from the energy perspective, and investment payback period from the economic point of view are selected as the decision criteria. Obtaining the three indicated indicators is done using artificial neural networks (ANNs) for yield and water temperature in the basin, which are developed by means of the recorded experimental data. The results indicate that hot arid cities with high received solar radiation, or the ones that have a higher water tariff compared to the others, are the preferred places for installation of solar stills. The example of the first category is Ahvaz, while Tehran is representative of the cities from the second category. AHP demonstrates that they are the first and second priorities for solar still installation, with scores of 26.9 and 22.7, respectively. Ahvaz has AWFP, EPBP, and IPP of 2706.5 L, 0.58 years, and 4.01 years; while the corresponding values for Tehran are 2115.3 L, 0.87 years, and 2.86 years. This study belongs to three classifications in the mathematical problems: 1. experimental work (code: 76–05), 2. Neural networks (code: 92B20), 3. and decision problems, (code: 20F10).
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