Sustainable Water and Energy Systems with Hydrogen Storage for Islands within Islands

Significance 

Remote areas, specifically islands, are faced with a utility services supply problems that range from power, water, internet facilities to wastewater drainage systems. This can be directly attributed to the fact that they are surrounded by water masses that complicate the erection of these facilities. Therefore, to suffice their power demand, such islands have turned to diesel engines. Regardless, the problem still persists when it comes to supplying this commodity to the interior and remote parts of the island. Fossil fuel imported to run the power generators has been globally acknowledged as a finite resource. Furthermore, fossil fuels are the lead global source of greenhouse gases and are responsible for the climatic changes experienced over the past century. For such isolated regions, finding an alternative energy source would be very welcoming: both from an economic aspect and from an environmental perspective.

Recently, a team of researchers at University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain: Inés Prieto Prado (PhD student), Dr. Beatriz Del Río Gamero, Professor Antonio Gómez Gotor and Professor Sebastián O. Pérez Báez investigated the feasibility of supplying power from renewable energy sources. Their main aim was to employ green energy to suffice both the energy and water needs of the 219 inhabitants of the remote El Risco located in the municipality of Agaete within the island. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Desalination.

The researchers opted to utilize solar, wind and photovoltaic renewable energy technologies, completed with an electrolyzer, a fuel cell and a hydrogen storage tank energy technologies owing to the presence of strong ocean winds and good sunshine hours. Next, they analyzed the potential to utilize existing renewable resources in the isolated area, using hydrogen as energy vector. Concurrently, the researchers undertook a feasibility analysis using the “Hybrid Optimization of Multiple Energy Resources” (HOMER) microgrid modelling software. Lastly, a simulation was undertaken in parallel of the reverse osmosis plant using the Reverse Osmosis System Analysis (ROSA) design software.

The authors observed that by utilizing the proposed system, inherent renewable resources: solar and wind, were successfully exploited and used in place of non-renewable fossil fuels. Additionally, the proposed system was seen to produce both electrical energy and water, using hydrogen and water as storage units, with the latter being energy throughout its cycle as well as specifically in the desalination process. Furthermore, the cost of electricity was significantly lowered.

In conclusion, from the simulation and optimization procedures, the Inés Prieto Prado and colleagues study demonstrated that the proposed system was both technically and economically feasible for real life applications in such segregated areas. Moreover, a comparison of the overall cost of the proposed system with the cost the fossil fueled system showed that the former was three times cheaper. Altogether, the work introduced a green powered system with the capacity to power and water remote areas, specifically within islands and in so doing minimizing carbon emission.

About the author

Inés Prieto Prado is chemical engineer and she is realizing her PhD at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. She was different studies related to the integration of renewable energies and water supply system in isolated areas, desalination technologies, and integration of desalination systems in power thermal plants. For that reason, her main research is focused on design and develop a system which supply of water and energy in remote areas around the world, especially in scarcity areas. Moreover, she realizes different works related to Research and Development activities management for different private companies, not only in Spain, but also in Europe.

About the author

Beatriz del Río Gamero, a chemical engineer who received her doctorate in the PhD program of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, within the Institute of Environmental Studies and Natural Resources at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain). She has specialized in the integration of renewable energies in the integral water cycle and the quantification of the carbon footprint and climate change mitigation.

After her graduation, she had a scholarship in the Analytical Control of Environmental Sources Laboratory, and then she joined to the process engineering department of the same University, where she is currently a research technician in the DESAL+ project, continuing her research in the environment and the integral water cycle topics.

About the author

Antonio Gomez Gotor, professor of chemical engineering and currently Emeritus Professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Throughout his professional life he has developed an intense activity, both academic and research, in the areas of water and energy. Specifically in the subject of water, the integration of renewable energy in water cycle processes as well as the reuse of water and, in the field of energy, he has developed different activities related to the use of hydrogen as energy vector of which we can specify different research projects (RES2H2, HYMAC …) as well as different reports and educational programmes with the main objective of raising awareness of a new energy model.

About the author

Sebastián O. Pérez Báez, Industrial Engineer from the University of La Laguna. PhD from the Polytechnic University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria working on energy storage. He is attaching to the Environmental Quality and Natural Resources Doctoral program. He teaches in the areas of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technologies at the School of Industrial Engineering of Las Palmas.

He has been the Doctoral Program in Environmental Engineering and Desalination Director for 15 years, managing various doctoral theses in this field. He belongs to the research institute of environmental studies and natural resources of the ULPGC. He has participated and collaborated in several projects of the EU call related to Water and Energy. He is actually participating in research projects related to the brackish water and seawater purification.

Reference

Prieto-Prado, B. Del Río-Gamero, A. Gómez-Gotor, S.O. Pérez-Báez. Water and energy self-supply in isolated areas through renewable energies using hydrogen and water as a double storage system. Desalination, volume 430 (2018) page 1–14.

Go To Desalination

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