Bookmark and Share

 

Workshop on “Water and Power: Challenges and solutions”
19-20 November 2012, Brussels, Belgium, Thon Hotel EU

Scope and Objectives
 
The workshop primarily aims at presenting the challenges and potential solutions for efficient power and water management. This will be more particularly examined in the context of EU and GCC regions. Exchanges of best practices on technologies, research, performance indicators and development models will allow learning and inspiration from others’ experiences.
 
The event is addressed to relevant policy makers, water and power companies, technology providers, research institutions /researchers etc.
 
The workshop aims - through presentation of papers and fruitful discussions to cover aspects of:
  • The experience in power interconnection, in particular interconnection agreements and their regulatory aspects.
  • The experience in privatizing the electricity and water sectors, the stages of privatization, the advantages and disadvantages of the process.
  • Exchange of expertise and experiences on rational electricity and water consumption techniques.
  • Transfer of technology for the generation, transport and distribution of electricity and the desalination of water, including cooperation with specialized research centers.
 
Background Information 
 
Most of the production of water in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is through cogeneration plants, leading to strong coupling between electricity and water. Desalination is an energy intensive process and cogeneration plants are more fuel efficient than stand-alone thermal plants because they utilize the low grade heat from the power generation process. However, this efficiency advantage decreases as the electricity production (relative to water) reduces and there is not enough low grade heat to fuel the thermal distillation. In the GCC, every winter, the electricity demand plummets compared to its summer high, whereas, the water generation remains fairly constant. This throws the system into an inefficient state as power plants burn fuel to directly generate water, bypassing the electricity generation. In the future, the introduction of nuclear and renewable energy will take more electricity generation away from cogeneration plants. This should result in further decrease in the efficiency of the plants.      
Membrane desalination technologies, such as reverse osmosis (RO), can improve the efficiency of cogeneration plants by taking away some of their water generation. In addition, RO can possibly be used in conjunction with large scale desalinated water storage produce a flatter electricity generation curve.
The following sections enlist some of the political, technical and economic issues surrounding the interdependency of electricity and water. 
 
Policy, Legislation and Regulation
Some of the important questions for policy makers and regulators are listed in this section. These questions can be seen as the options available to policy makers, and eventually, policy making should be guided by a thorough analysis of the technical, economic and social outcome of these options.
Balancing the Water Desalination Technologies
What is the appropriate mix of desalination technologies for water generation? Should reverse osmosis have a significant or dominant share of water generation in winter? In addressing these questions we should be mindful of the cost, fuel consumption (environmental impact) and technical limitations of the technologies. One way of approaching this problem can be an optimization exercise that incorporates all these considerations and minimizes the economic and environmental cost of the system over a long time horizon. 
The Role of Water Storage 
What will be the role of large scale water storage in creating a cost and environment efficient water and electricity system? Can we support a future electrical grid, with cogeneration and variable wind and solar energy, by using agile reverse osmosis plants that charge large scale water reservoirs (or aquifers)? Can pumped hydro energy storage with desalinated water reservoirs be practical?
Demand Side Water and Electricity Saving
What role can be played by demand side water saving to balance the electricity saving (in fossil fuel cogeneration) resulting from demand side energy efficiency, nuclear energy and renewables? 
Is water reuse and recycling a socially viable option? If not, what regulatory changes needed to pave the way? Can the use of rainwater be explored?
How to improve electric energy efficiency?
 
Economics
Economic consideration will be paramount in choosing the right balance between desalination technologies, water storage and demand side conservation. Some of these considerations are listed below.
- Costs of Individual Components
In general any solution should include thorough analysis of the life cycle costs of all system components involved such as desalination, storage and demand side conservation technologies. 
- Allocation of Costs in Cogeneration
In particular, the allocation of costs between water and electricity in cogenerating desalination configurations is a challenging problem. Present allocation mechanisms may not be adequate. In addition, can we use the fuel cost allocation methods to allocate carbon dioxide emissions?
 
Technical Considerations
The technical feasibility of available options will be instrumental in determining their role in the energy and water generation system. Some of these considerations are as follows.
Reverse Osmosis 
The lack of RO in the Middle East has traditionally been attributed to technical barriers such as membrane scaling and turbidity of water; factors that lead to reduction in the lifetime of membranes. Do these problems still persist? In addition, can we use reverse osmosis plants for load following? Are variable output RO plants feasible? 
Storage of Water
What are technical challenges to large scale storage of desalinated water? How can we deal with problems such as evaporation and aquifer contamination?