Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “water”

Autonomous Closed-Loop Food Producing in the Arabian Desert

Dubai expo, Dutch pavilion. 18 m tall cone-shaped vertical garden, growing 9,300 mint, basil and tomato plants. The point of the exhibition is to show that it is possible to have an 100% isolated yet autonomous environment in the Arabian desert and grow food there, off grid. The energy comes unsurprisingly from the sun, but the water from the air at a rate of 1,200 liters of water a day for this particular pavilion. Umbrellas are handed out to the visitors.

[] – Discover the Pavilion
[] – The Netherlands Expo pavilion makes its own water to grow food in the desert heat
[] – V8 Architects’ Dutch Biotope pavilion generates water and food at Dubai Expo
[] – Dutch innovations connect water, food and energy at Expo 2020 Dubai

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How Nanotech Can Help Solve the Fresh Water Crisis

YouTube text:

We all take freshwater for granted, but we shouldn’t. By 2025 two thirds of the global population may experience water scarcity, so there’s a fresh water crisis coming. And that’s because of global warming driven droughts. Supply cuts are looming in the Southwestern US and water is fueling wars across the world. There’s a sea of desalination technologies coming up. Like solar domes in the desert or nanofiber technology membranes and other nanomaterials making seawater drinkable in minutes. Let’s take a look at how nanotechnology could help contain the fresh water crisis and help with sustainability.

New Moroccan Desalination Plant Under Construction

Morocco is set to commence the construction of the world’s largest sea water desalination plant in 2021, at the Southern Coastal City of Agadir. The US$301m Douira Sea Water Desalination plant is expected to have a treatment capacity of 75 million m3/year. Abengoa, a Spanish company has been chosen by the Moroccan National Electricity and Drinking water Office (ONEE) to construct this new desalination plant.

The intent is to run the plant on renewable electricity, offering yet another buffering opportunity for intermittent renewable electricity, as water can be easily stored.

Technology: Reverse Osmosis
Electricity cost rev. osm.: 3-10 kWh/m3
Production capacity: 275,000 m3/day, to be increased towards 450,000 m3/day

[] – Morocco to commence construction of world largest sea water desalination plant in 2021
[] – Desalination
[] – Desalination is an expensive energy hog, but improvements are on the way
[] – Van zeewater tot drinkwater

Source Hydropanel – Renewable Drinking Water

Source hydropanel. A single panel has both thermal and photovoltaic functionality. Provides drinking water from sun rays. 2-5 liter per panel, per day. Water is extracted from humidity in the air. The pure (sterile) water is mineralized with magnesium and calcium for taste. Further onboard sterilization with ozone.

[] – When the sun makes drinking water
[] – Source company site
[] – Source video channel
[] – Tech spec sheet

Philippines project.

Water Desalinization With Sunlight

A global research team has been able to transform brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

In a discovery that could provide potable water for millions of people across the world, researchers were not only able to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5L of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day, but also perform this task in a more energy-efficient manner than current desalination practices.

[] – Breakthrough technology purifies water using the power of sunlight
[] – ‘Light responsive’ technology turns seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes
[] – Metal–organic framework (MOF)

Sea Water Green Houses in the Desert

[] – Seawater greenhouse
[] – Company site

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Towing Icebergs to the Emirates for Drinking Water

The Middle East is home to 70% of the world’s desalinization capacity, since there are no natural water sources worth mentioning in the Gulf. A company from the United Arab Emirates has launched a plan to tow icebergs from Heard Island near Antarctica to the Gulf (Heard Island –> Fujairah, distance 8833 km/5488 miles). [Google Maps]

[] – Heard Island and McDonald Islands
[] – Heard Island, pictures
[] – Current weather Heard Island

Is this a good idea?

In order to answer that question one has to compare the cost of desalinating a liter of water and the cost of transporting a liter of ice water from the South Pole.

Cost desalinization: 3 kWh/m3

[] – Desalination

Now transport. The idea is to tow icebergs, but it needs to be realized that icebergs have 90% of their volume under water, resulting in a lot drag, drag that can be avoided by transporting the ice as water in a stream-lined oil tanker. The idea was to tow the iceberg to the Gulf (losing valuable water during the trip, due to melting) and break it up there. But if you have to break it up anyway, why not doing that at Heard Island, melt it there and transport it as water in oil tankers to the Gulf?

So what’s the cost of transporting 1 m3 of pure water per km?

[] – Freight Transportation Modal Shares: Scenarios for a Low-Carbon Future

On page 2: 0.5 BTU per ton-mile or 0.00023592296 kwh per ton-km.
The distance to be bridged is 8833 km, which results in 2.1 kWh/m3, ignoring the energy cost of the empty ship sailing back to Heard Island.

So according to this back-on-an-envelope calculation there is indeed some energy gains to be made by transporting rather than desalinize, but it is not spectacular (merely 2.1 over 3 kWh/m3). And there are several parameters that could tilt the balance to either of these options.

The Gulf region has abundant solar irradiation and a lot of otherwise useless desert, that can be used to build huge solar parks, delivering low cost solar energy, that be be used for desalinization.
On the other hand, the oil-tanker, or water-tanker rather, can be equipped with huge sails to save on fossil fuel.

Tentative conclusion: yes transporting ice-water from the Antarctic could compete with local desalinization of sea water, but it is difficult to identify which method will prevail in the end. Technology will decide.

[] – Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states?

[] – Filling the Empty Quarter: Declaring a Green Jihad On the Desert

There is nothing against towing icebergs to Dubai. It is a matter of offsetting the towing costs against the cost of desalinization. The Middle East has 70% of the world’s desalinization capacity.

Desalinization With Elementary Water Makers

[] – Desalinization using renewable energy for affordable fresh water

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Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Decided Upon


Israel & Jordan need water and decided to implement a decades old plan, namely to transport water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea via a canal.


  • Volume: ca. 300 million m3/year.
  • Desalinization: 65-85 million m3/year.
  • Cost: $800 million.
  • Length: 180 km
  • Red Sea loses 700 million m3/year
  • Partners: World Bank, US, EU countries

[] – Israel, Jordan unveil $800m joint plan for ‘Red-Dead’ canal
[] – Jordanien startet Ausschreibung: Megakanal soll Rotes und Totes Meer verbinden

[] – Dead Sea Canal

dead-sea-from-masada[source] Dead Sea from Masada.

[] – Megakanal vom Roten Meer: Das Tote Meer wird wiederbelebt

Groundwater Depletion Worldwide


Two new studies show that the world’s population is consuming groundwater at a rapid pace even without knowing when it might run out. Satellite data revealed that a third of the world’s largest groundwater basins are in extreme distress. However, it is difficult to say how much water still remains in them.

  • Arabian Aquifer System the most overstressed groundwater source
  • The situation would only worsen

[] – World’s Groundwater Draining At Alarming Rate

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