Exploiting Sustainable Energy for Seawater Desalination: The Case Study of Saudi Arabia.
Water scarcity is a global crisis; the MENA region is one of the most water-stressed regions. Saudi Arabia currently burns approximately 1.5 million barrels of crude oil equivalent daily to produce water, through desalination, and electricity generation.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies hold great potential for water desalination because they could store heat to provide baseload for desalination, and because the technological improvements potential is significant, which can reduce its price. The coupling of desalination and sustainable energy sources has a great potential in MENA, this is particularly a necessity in Saudi Arabia given all the challenges tied with escalating energy demand, water demand, water scarcity, escalating carbon dioxide emission and virtually unlimited solar irradiance. Saudi Arabia has the largest CSP desalination potential, estimated at 23.7 Bm3/y where the average DNI at coastal desalination is projected to reach DNI > 2300. Therefore, for Saudi Arabia, CSP-powered seawater desalination could be the way forward.
The proposed study aims to answer the research questions:
• How can Saudi Arabia select the optimum coupling between sustainable energy and desalination technology, given its DNI geographical location, seawater salinity and best choice of technology?
• Given the challenge of rising local energy consumption and the dire need to introduce sustainable energy to the energy mix, can solar energy meet the requirements of energy for the current desalination capacities?
• To solve the intermittent problem, can storage technologies provide the complete solution? If not, what is the best coupling technique?
The work proposes to find the best suited design for desalination in Saudi Arabia to improve existing desalination technologies and find ways to create innovative design optimization and/or invent new technologies for integrating desalination MED, RO or NF with CSP technologies, as well as utilize storage technologies in the Saudi case study, including phase-change storage.
Expected Output could include:
• Fundamental knowledge about the Saudi status
• Create alternative design for desalination in Saudi Arabia
• Utilize and optimize sustainable energy and existing water desalination technologies
• Study the limitations of such systems and tackle the intermittent problem of solar energy and the current status of storage technologies