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Universidad de Granada (2020)

Analysis of solar energy in desalination plants in Saudi Arabia

Alshail, Khalid

Titre : Analysis of solar energy in desalination plants in Saudi Arabia

Auteur : Alshail, Khalid

Université de soutenance : Universidad de Granada

Grade : Doctor 2020

Water scarcity is an issue in a number of countries, especially in semi-arid and arid areas. One of the most promising applications of solar energy is water desalination, especially in regions where fresh water is scarce, and sunlight is abundant. Desalination is a growing and necessary source of fresh water, but it is highly energy-intensive. Conventional desalination is currently supported by fossil fuels, and it is critical to explore renewable options to reduce pollution. The most important of these options is solar power. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), seawater desalination has been among the key sources of potable water. In the Gulf region, and especially in some of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, desalination has been estimated to reach 90%. Saudi Arabia is among the countries facing significant challenges due to insufficient natural water resources. This research analyses the viability of coupling the already established thermal and membrane desalination plants in Saudi Arabia with different solar energy technologies, concentrated solar power and photovoltaic (CSP and PV) to produce potable water and to be economically viable as well. The study begins by using the analytical hierarchy process to select adequate desalination technologies for Spain and the GCC countries by considering the results obtained from a survey of experts in the field for all these counties. This study found that the most suitable technologies for Spain and the GCC countries are reverse osmosis and multi-stage flash (RO and MSF), respectively. A techno-economic and Levelised Cost of Water (LCOW) analysis are discussed. Case studies, including a standalone CSP assisted MED-TVC using Parabolic Trough (PT), a Linear Fresnel Reflector (LFR), and a Central Receiver Tower (CRT) with different storage options are analysed and discussed. Conclusions and recommendations are also presented. The application of concentrated solar thermal energy using PT, CRT, and LFR for small scale desalination plants that use fossil fuel is also investigated. The amount of fuel that can be saved by getting the necessary thermal energy from solar energy is estimated. It is found that LFR technology is the most cost-competitive, and PT technology is the best when opting for more fuel savings. This study is based on conducting theoretical and practical studies, considering real technical data in order to prove the possibility of integrating various desalination and solar energy technologies in different ways. It contributes to the understanding of low-temperature solar-thermal desalination systems performance under different conditions, as well as PV-Solar-reverse osmosis, and contributes to the advancement of the existing knowledge in this area, in general.


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