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Wind-power could offer a cheap desalination option for UAE

by Utilities ME Staff on Jun 11, 2017

Following the successful trial of solar desalination in UAE, wind power has emerged as another renewable energy for alternative to power desalination plants in UAE.

A new study by Masdar Institute shows that the cost of producing water for the UAE’s natural water storage structures, and the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the process, could be reduced using wind power for the desalination.

Because wind speeds in the UAE are low, the university partnered in the project with Synlift Industrial Products of Germany, which provides solutions for low-wind sites. Their study concluded that the cost of producing 1,000 litres of water would arrive at between $1.6 (EUR 1.43) and USD 2.1. This is slightly below the cost of producing freshwater via thermal-powered desalination, before adding avoided emissions to the calculation, according to a report by Renewablesnow.com

The underground water storage facility in Liwa, Abu Dhabi can store 5 billion gallons of desalinated water, and another such facility is also being constructed in Al Ain. Masdar Institute said that co-generation power and desalination plants that produce most of Abu Dhabi’s electricity and water contribute to one-third of the emirate’s carbon footprint.

The use of other renewable energy sources, such as solar and geothermal energy, to supply water in Abu Dhabi has also been investigated.

For the wind project, the research team has designed and modelled a reverse osmosis (RO) plant equipped with variable frequency drives, so that the plant will be able to operate with variable power input. Hassan Arafat, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, explains that the variability of wind power generation is not an issue for the project, since the production of water for Liwa’s underground water reserve does not require a continuous daily supply of water. Meeting an average annual or monthly target would be enough.


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