Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “water”

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

Water Shortages in the Western Hemisphere

[] – Europe is not going to be exempt

California Has One Year Water Left


January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows… As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought… Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing… First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state’s water sectors… A recent Field Poll showed that 94% of Californians surveyed believe that the drought is serious, and that one-third support mandatory rationing.

Jay Famiglietti is the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine.

[] – California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

California’s Groundwater Crisis

Gepubliceerd op 23 dec. 2014 California’s Central Valley groundwater is being depleted much faster than it can be replenished. The future looks very bleak if this drought and record amounts of pumping aren’t stopped.

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Tow Icebergs For Drinking Water

Youtube: Uploaded on Oct 14, 2010 Turning Icebergs into Drinking Water? It’s a common mistake to confuse ice fields, which are composed of frozen seawater and populated with polar bears, with icebergs, our floating mountains composed of frozen drinking water. And did you know that, each year, the equivalent of the world’s supply in drinking water melts away into the ocean? Why should just sit by and let this happen? Why not use icebergs as an alternative source for drinking water? This is French Arts & Métiers Engineer Georges Mougin’s dream since 40 years! At first this idea may seem too outlandish, but perhaps Mougin is a visionary? Dassault Systèmes has decided to help Mougin reexamine his project with the help of 21st Century technology. And what if 3D scientific simulation and a virtual worlds can give life to an idea that died down last century? Perhaps this was due to technology-linked obstacles and limited knowledge of our oceans and weather. Perhaps Mougin was ahead of his times… A documentary under the direction of Jean-Michel Corillion is being made to tell this story. It’s called Ice Dreams and in a few months will be broadcast in various countries. We’ll keep you posted as the details unfold. But for now, enjoy the sneak preview below!

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Mattmark Hydro Power Plant

– Location: Mattmark, Saas-Almagell/Wallis/Switserland, 2197 m above sea level. Power is mainly generated down the valley in Stalden at 715 m.
– Capacity: 77,500,000 m3 or 254.5 GWh (the energy content of the lake is worth ca. 51 million euro/66 million $ consumer electricity, consumer endprice assumed to be 20 euro cent per kwh). Or alternatively: the lake energy content represents the equivalent of one million man year of hard physical labour, assuming one man day = one kwh (in reality it is less). Adding a non-working woman and two children to the equation to replace the worker after two generations, the energy stored in this lake represents the labour equivalent of a nation like Denmark. In other words: it would take one million Danish men one year of carrying water from Stalden (715 M) to Mattmark (2197 m) in order to fill an empty lake. Come to think of it, we doubt if a Dane is able to lift 77.5 mm3 over 1200 m in a years time. Assuming three climbs per day of 33 liter each makes 0.1 mm3 per day or 775 days non-stop working for 77.5 m3. Swap Denmark for Sweden and you have the real picture: this relatively small power plant generates as much energy as all adult Swedish males combined can produce by muscle power. Figures likes these make it clear why energy can no longer be taken for granted and that real wealth is represented by kwh and not paper money. The Gordon Gekko’s of the future will be those who understand the true meaning of the Mattmark hydro power plant in particular and energy in general rather than money and interest.
– Power: 130.3 MW, both in Stalden and Zermeiggern (Saas-Almagell), fully integrated in pan-European network. Yearly production 665 GWh, meaning that per year slightly more than twice the content of the lake is converted into electrical energy. A mini-reservoir in Zermeiggern is used to store energy by pumping water upwards to the Mattmark lake at times of low demand. The dam was built between 1960-1965, but was interrupted for two years because of the largest accident in Swiss building history, as 88 men were killed after a piece of a gletscher broke off.



Pictures from holiday trip to Mattmark:

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Blue Energy

Reverse Electro Dialysis is the most promising technique method for extracting energy from the salt difference between sea and river water. The method is inherently sustainable and clean. In theory the Rhine river can deliver 6000 megawatt energy on mixing with the Northsea. Assuming an ideal process, there is no overall energy effect and the process is balanced by cooling the effluent 0.2 degrees or so. Extraction of a part of this 6000 MWatt is an exciting idea.

[wikipedia – osmotic power]

According to a Dutch government source a 50 kilowatt pilot project will be realised and financed with 8 million euro. The potential for the Afsluitdijk is estimated to be 200 MW, but is not expected to be implemented before 2030.

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How Much Water Is There On Earth?

Picture from the US Geological Survey (USGS). Water might cover 70% of the planets surface, but in reality oceans are shallow on a global scale. Of that water (1386 million km3 in total or a sphere with a radius of 693 km, see picture) only a small fraction of 0.77% (sphere with radius of 137 km, see picture) is usable fresh water (ground water, lakes, rivers, etc.). An additional 1.74% is stored as glaciers, ice caps and permanent snow, but is not accessible and usable.


Wind Turbine Creates Fresh Water Out of Thin Air

Eole Water has designed a revolutionnary wind turbine, the WMS1000 which is able to create drinkable water only by using air. The turbine is fully self-sufficient, featuring the most eco-friendly water production system ever designed.


US Navy Funds Ocean Power Project

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc… today announced the successful completion of extensive factory acceptance testing of the first of its next generation power take-off (“PTO”) units for the Company’s utility-scale PowerBuoy®, the PB150. The PTO has now been shipped from OPT’s facility in Pennington, New Jersey to Oregon Iron Works, where it is in the process of being integrated into the spar of the buoy in preparation for deployment off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. The new direct drive system is a much larger version of that which was recently utilized in the Company’s PowerBuoy deployed off Oahu, Hawaii, for two years in a project with the US Navy.


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Huge Water Reserves In Africa

Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London (UCL) have mapped in detail the amount and potential yield of this groundwater resource across the continent. Greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in the large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad. The amount of storage in those basins is equivalent to 75m thickness of water across that area, which is huge… With careful exploring and construction, there is sufficient groundwater under Africa to support low yielding water supplies for drinking and community irrigation…This research… could have a profound effect on some of the world’s poorest people, helping them become less vulnerable to drought and to adapt to the impact of climate change.

* map shows amount of water present in aquifers.


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