Will water become the world’s biggest battery?
Published on March 22nd, 2018
Insight from Christopher Gasson, Repost from GWI publisher
I spent this afternoon at the Louvre Abu Dhabi with Department of Energy chairman Awaidha Al Marar and Environment Agency boss Razan Al Mubarak. The location had nothing to do with the conversation, although the futuristic setting of the gallery reinforced the feeling that tomorrow has already started to happen in some parts of the world.
The specific future that Abu Dhabi has been grappling with concerns the implications of the transition to renewable energy for the water sector. In the past, when people talked about the water and energy nexus, they tended to refer to the fact that water needs
Al Mubarak (who is incidentally one of the most dynamic women in the Middle Eastern water sector) saw this as an opportunity to turn the aquifer into a giant battery. It stores water produced from excess electricity in the winter
That mismatch is a growing problem right across the world. In Germany last year, there was a windy weekend in October when the price of electricity dropped to minus $0.098/kWh. That is to say that anyone who could use a wholesale amount of electricity would have been paid to take it off the grid.
The great thing about water is that it can be stored in a way that electricity cannot. For example, in 20 years’
From a desalination point of view, it very much changes the game. After leaving the Louvre, I visited Corrado Sommariva, who runs ILF’s
I can see where he is going. If you are going to get paid $0.098/kWh to use electricity one minute, only to find the flow of money reversing the next minute, it opens up a world of creative possibilities. Economic logic suggests that these should be beneficial. If the power sector is generating more volatility than it can handle, and the water sector is better able to manage that volatility, then there is a profitable trade to be made.