Solar ‘ponds’ energy could rival fossil fuels in UAE

A general view shows part of a new 15 million euro solar plant, funded by the German government, that emits some 12.9 megawatts during its official inauguration at the Zaatari refugee camp, in this November 13, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 21 November 2017
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Solar ‘ponds’ energy could rival fossil fuels in UAE

LONDON: The lagoons and salt flats around the UAE’s coastline could be used to generate a new source of clean energy for the country, according to new research carried out by the United Arab Emirates University.
The energy produced within so-called “solar ponds” could be a viable and far more environmentally-friendly alternative to liquefied natural gas and other fossil fuels, particularly for rural areas already rich in salt.
“Heat from solar ponds is expected to be competitive with the use of liquefied petroleum gas and electricity in rural areas,” said Dr. Samir Abu-Eishah, a professor of chemical engineering at the university in Al-Ain, who led the research.
The ponds would be used for the production of salt as well as the generation of thermal energy required in water desalination processes. “For the long-term, the technology makes use of renewable solar energy and is sustainable. The technology itself is environmentally-friendly and, if implemented, would serve as a sustainable energy source for the desalination of saline waters.”
According to Dr. Abu-Eishah’s study, the UAE’s coast has many highly salty lagoons surrounded by sabkhas or salt flats where salinity-gradient solar ponds (SGSP) could be created that would act as “heat sinks” due to their high concentration of salts trapping in solar radiation.
“The SGSP technology uses high-density saltwater to store thermal heat,” said Dr. Abu-Eishah in his paper. “The pond absorbs solar heat, but a portion of it is trapped within its ‘lower convective zone’, which has high salt concentration and density. This thermal energy can be harnessed at a later time for processes that require water temperatures between 50-90 degrees Celsius.”
The hot water could be used to drive low-temperature energy-generating turbines, which are used in salt production, water supply as well as in the dairy, grain, fruit and vegetable canning industries.
His research found that the prospect of developing this cleaner energy source is becoming “increasingly attractive” due to declining costs.
Abu-Eishah said that the ponds also help bring agricultural land considered too salt-heavy to be farmed or developed and brought back into use. “SGSP technology is expected to have several economically and environmentally advantageous returns for the UAE, with the most significant being environmentally-friendly renewable fuel,” he said.


Ryanair’s Irish union extends vote on possible strike action

Updated 32 min 10 sec ago
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Ryanair’s Irish union extends vote on possible strike action

DUBLIN: Ryanair’s Irish union extended a ballot on industrial action by two weeks on Tuesday, saying its members wanted more time to consider the move, which could lead to a strike.
Europe’s biggest budget airline averted widespread strikes before last Christmas by agreeing to recognize trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history.
But the airline, which operates in 37 countries and last year carried some 130 million passengers, has since struggled to reach agreement on terms in some countries.
This has led to minor disruption in Germany and Portugal and the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) said it would ballot pilots if a new system for dealing with base allocations, promotions, and leave was not introduced.
IALPA began the ballot last week, a letter to members seen by Reuters on Monday showed and the results were due on Tuesday.
However, a memo circulated by IALPA later on Monday said it had extended the vote to July 3, giving pilots more time to consider “such an important matter” and avoiding a clash with a meeting of Ryanair’s unions across Europe organized by the European Cockpit Association.
“It is self-evident that Ryanair and its on-going disputes with pilots across Europe will be a feature on the agenda of the ECA Conference,” it said.
A spokesman for Ryanair, which this month signed its first cabin crew union recognition agreements with staff in Italy and Britain, was not immediately available for comment.