Solar desalination projects power the future

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Solar desalination projects in the MENA region will shape the future.

Solar power and water desalination, it turns out, go together like bread and butter. Who knew?

The MENA region is increasingly dependent on desalinated water, as the region’s standard of living continues to rise, along with its rapid population growth. The desalination plants themselves, use untold megawatts of power, every day of the year. Some energy experts have been quoted as saying that a large desal plant can require as much power as a small city — and desalination power plants tend to run night and day, unlike cities, which draw surprisingly low amounts of power from the grid at night.

But, new hope has arrived with dramatically lower solar panel prices which have been in free-fall for the past 3 years, when China entered the PV solar panel market in earnest. As PV solar factories have ramped-up to meet huge demand, prices fell, causing even higher demand and further price falls. It is expected that solar panel prices will ‘bottom-out’ later this year.

“Holding nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential, the Middle East and North Africa are poised for unprecedented growth in renewable energy.” — Masdar

Abu Dhabi is the setting for an international conference on the use of solar power to reliably and cost-effectively power the MENA region’s desalination plants.

The first Solar Desalination Forum will be held from 26-28 May 2013 at Le Royal Meridien Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

Industry experts from Ministries of water, electricity and environment, power and electricity generators, environmental agencies, research centers, municipalities, water solution providers, EPC contractors and consultants will all meet to contrast, compare, and inform each other on the benefits of using solar power to operate the region’s desal plants.

“With the demand for energy rising exponentially, the region is undergoing a major transformation in how it generates electricity. In fact, the Middle East is poised for major investments in renewables, and Shams 1 proves the economic and environmental advantage of deploying large-scale solar projects.” — His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar

With the advent of low priced solar, the GCC nations have realised that it is logical to use the Sun’s free energy to produce electrical power, and to export all the oil and gas, instead of burning it night and day to power desal plants!

Professor Mohamed Darwish, Principal Investigator of the Doha Solar Project at the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute solar desalination project, is the principal speaker at this, the first conference of its kind.

“I believe that even though solar desalination is in its infancy, the Middle East will be adapting it in the near future.” — Professor Dr. Hassan El-Banna S. Fath, Professor of Practice at the Masdar Institute of Science & Technology, who will be covering a workshop and speaking at the conference about the road to water security and food security in the region

Raed Ahmad Bkayrat, Manager of the Technology Application and Advancement Group, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology who will discuss the matching of PV solar power with reverse osmosis water desalination technologies in a case study titled; ‘Understanding the economics and benefits of integrating commercial solar CPV with RO seawater desalination systems’.

It’s a safe bet, to say that MENA nations should be planning a long-term switch to solar energy — starting with PV-solar now, and using Concentrated Solar Power starting within ten years.

The Solar Desalination Forum is organized by IQPC and supported by EcoSeed, Allen & York, ESIA, Solar International, IPWA, DesalData, Global Water Intelligence, EnergyWorld, Clean Energy Business Council, Standards Associates and Energy IQ. — AME Info

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