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Open Access Original article

Seawater desalination in micro grids: an integrated planning approach

Kristina Bognar1*, Philipp Blechinger12 and Frank Behrendt1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Energy Engineering, Technische Universität Berlin, Fasanenstrasse 89, Berlin, 10623, Germany

2 Reiner Lemoine Institut gGmbH, Ostendstrasse 25, Berlin, 12459, Germany

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Energy, Sustainability and Society 2012, 2:14  doi:10.1186/2192-0567-2-14

Published: 16 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Islands often depend on the import of fossil fuels for power generation. Due to the combined effect of high oil prices and transportation costs, energy supply systems based on renewable energies are already able to compete successfully with fossil fuel systems for a number of these islands. Depending on local and regional conditions, not only energy supply is a challenge, but also the finding of a reliable supply of water. A promising alternative to freshwater shipments is seawater desalination. Desalination processes can act as a flexible load whenever excess electricity generated by renewable sources is present.

Methods

Numerical simulations of combined energy and water supply systems for the Caribbean island Petite Martinique, Grenada, are accomplished. Considering renewable energy sources like wind and solar radiation, energy storage technologies, and desalination processes, various scenarios are introduced and simulated, and the results are compared.

Results

An extension of the current energy supply system with renewable energy technologies reduces power generation costs by approximately 40%. The excess energy generated by renewables can supply a significant share of a desalination plant’s energy demand. The levelized costs of electricity and water show that the integration of desalination as a deferrable load is beneficial to the considered micro grid.

Conclusions

The implementation of renewable energy generation and desalination as deferrable load is recommendable in Petite Martinique. Possible refinancing strategies depending on the combination of different electricity and water tariffs can be derived and applied to similar business cases in remote regions.

Keywords:
Water cogeneration; Renewable energies; Techno-economic optimization; Demand side management