Solar energy to optimize the cost of RO desalination plant case study: Deir Elbalah SWRO plant in Gaza strip

Hussam A. AlBorsh, Said M. Ghabayen


Seawater desalination by reverse osmosis (SWRO) is currently considered as one of the most widely used and reliable technology in providing additional water supply for areas suffering from water scarcity. High energy consumption of Reverse Osmosis plants is one of the biggest challenges, particularly in developing countries such as Palestine. The future demand for fresh water and thus, energy, triggers researchers to find methods to integrate the use of renewable energy for the desalination process. Palestine has a high solar energy potential, where the average of solar radiation intensity on horizontal surface is 5.31kWh/m2 per day. In this research, the possibilities of using solar energy to optimize the cost of the desalination process in Gaza were studied. The research focused on the optimal use of solar energy and selection of the most economically feasible configuration of utilizing this source either fully or partially in the SWRO process. Internal Rate of Return (IRR) was used as an economic indicator to analyze the feasibility of establishing a SWRO desalination plant with a capacity of 600m3/d in Gaza based on the optimal energy sources. The available options of energy sources were Traditional System, Off Grid and On Grid Solar systems. The results for the economic study found that the IRR was 6.6%, 3.80%, and 7.64% for the first, second, and third options respectively. The higher the IRR, the more attractive is the option for the investment. The IRR should be more than the market interest rate by a comfortable margin (6.43% in Palestine). Based on the results, the On Grid Solar System has the ability to balance the system production and Plant power requirements, which is about 105kwh. Considering the On-Grid system, the unit cost for desalinated water was reduced from 1.08$/m3 (Electric utility as a baseline) to 0.89$/m3 which is about 17% saving.


Optimization, Desalination, Solar Energy, IRR.

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