Geothermally Sourced Combined Power and Freshwater Generation for Eastern Africa (Combi-Gen)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Lack of safe and clean water is a long-standing challenges in much of Africa, and especially in Ethiopia and Kenya. Around 50 million people in Ethiopia lack access to safe water, and the country is currently suffering from its worst drought for 50 years, leaving some 18 million people in need of urgent aid. Similarly, only 41% out of the Kenyan population of ~ 47 million have access to safe water.

Despite substantial undeveloped renewable resources, both Ethiopia and Kenya are energy poor. Ethiopia has around 2 GW of electricity generation capacity, meeting only 10% of national electricity demand, and reaching only 12% of the population. Kenya, with an installed electricity capacity around only 2.2 GW, has better grid connectivity, reaching about 55% of its households, but is still plagued by frequent, lengthy outages. In both countries, geothermal energy is vastly under-utilised and represents an exciting opportunity of addressing energy challenges, alleviating poverty, and promoting economic development.

The Combi-Gen project aims to develop a novel geothermally sourced-combined power and freshwater generation technology, which promises to initiate a genuinely innovative shift in the engineering response to the twin challenges of energy shortage and water-scarcity in Ethiopia and Kenya. The research will provide a novel technology that can significantly improve the utilisation of the precious geothermal resources in Ethiopia and Kenya, and can produce both power and freshwater simultaneous to address the long-standing twin challenge of water and energy shortage in both countries and others of this kind. Once the developed Combi-Gen system is widely installed, it will contribute to sustainable development through reliable renewable energy and freshwater generation, and a reduction in poverty through promoting economic development and employment growth.

Combi-Gen tackles a number of key priorities for development identified by the GRCF that relate to challenges of health, clean energy, safe water, sustainable agriculture, and foundations for inclusive growth. The core of the project is to tackle challenges associated with 'Sustainable infrastructure development'. The geothermal focus is strategically aligned with the government energy policy priorities on developing renewable and sustainable energy to meet power demand in both countries.

Planned Impact

There will be a wide range of potential direct and indirect beneficiaries of the developed Combi-Gen technology.

1. The immediate beneficiaries of the developed technology will be local communities resident in the vicinity of geothermal resources - in the first instance in the Rift Valley. Once Combi-Gen systems are widely installed, they will provide both electricity and freshwater. While electricity can also be distributed via the grid, water can only be deployed economically to benefit local communities. The access to electricity will allow them to use mobile phone, televisions, and radios, and other appliances, improving people's life quality in these regions. This can also provide them with more opportunities of education and access to knowledge. The production of freshwater will not only provide safe and clean drinking water to local communities, but also boost local agriculture / horticulture, principally to enhance food security (and marketable crops).

2. The developed Combi-Gen technology, via its novel integration with a thermal chimney-driven, air-cooled condenser to condense the flashing vapour to produce fresh water, promises to significantly improve the economics of geothermal power production. Hence it can be anticipated that, once Combi-Gen technology is deployed, the exploitation of geothermal energy will be accelerated in Ethiopia, Kenya, and ultimately more widely in East Africa and beyond. The resultant increase of geothermal power generation will make a significant contribution to the national grid power supplies in both countries, offering low-carbon baseload electricity, benefitting populations within reach of the grid.

3. The manufacturers of power generation equipment in these countries and the UK will be the direct beneficiaries of the developed Combi-Gen technology. Intellectual property generated from this project will be patented nationally and internationally. We plan to form a wide network including stakeholders such as academia, industrialists, consultants, and investors to further develop and commercialise this novel technology in these countries and the UK. We anticipate hundreds to, ultimately, thousands of new jobs being generated for the manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of our products, significantly contributing to economic growth in these countries and the UK.

4. Policy makers in Ethiopia and Kenya will have early access to a potentially game-changing technology to tackle shortages of both energy and water supplies.

5. This project will make an important g contribution to build the geothermal energy exploitation related research capacity in Ethiopia and Kenya. Dr Elias Lewi Teklemariam who is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Geophysics, Space Science and Astronomy (IGSSA) at Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia, is the Co-Investigator of our consortium. The project will aim to help develop geothermal related research programme in Ethiopia. The proposed work entails training for both AAU researchers and local community members for social science applications, data-gathering, and economic analyses.

6. We will train a number of high quality researchers through this project in both Ethiopia and the UK. Five PDRAs of diverse expertise will carry out the proposed research work. A large number of MEng and BEng project students will be trained along the implementation of this exciting project.
 
Description 1) The efficiency of the power cycle using two phase turbine for power generation strongly depends on the turbine efficiency.
2) If the two turbine efficiency can reach 50%, the over all cycle efficiency will be superior to other alternative technologies.
3) The advantage of such system is the production of fresh water.
Exploitation Route on-going reserach, and findings can be used by companies working on geothermal ppower generation and water desalination.
Sectors Energy

 
Description An engineering, social and economic evaluation of food processing in the rural areas of Malawi and Kenya
Amount £34,000 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Scotland 
Department Scottish Funding Council
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Power Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Description Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Title A research rig for research on natural convection heat transfer 
Description A rig has been designed and built to study the natural convectional heat transfer. It use high speed camera to visualise the flow patter around heated tubes. Smoke is used as the trace particles. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This can used by the team and other reeserch groups in the School. 
 
Description Collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology 
Organisation Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China), led to a successful workshop/network grant by British Council and NSFC of China (Ref: 2018-RLWK10-10298) Contribution: expertise in heating and cooling technologies
Collaborator Contribution expertise in cooling technologies
Impact We will organise a joint China-UK worksho for heating and cooling technologies.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Prof. Hua Tian and Gequn Shu in Tianjin University, China 
Organisation Tianjin University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Prof. Hua Tian and Gequn Shu in Tianjin University in the area of super-critical CO2 power generation technologies. Our contribution: expertise of PIV experimental testing by Dr Zhibin Yu and CFD design expertise by Prof. Li He
Collaborator Contribution Their expertise of supercritical CO2 power plants
Impact Established collaboration with Tianjin University and submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018. It received very high review scores but narrowly missed due to the very limited funds available of this Call. We will continue to collaborate in this area.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Scottish power 
Organisation Scottish Power Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contribute to the project "Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power" in the area of heating networks, including modelling and optimisation.
Collaborator Contribution Contribute to the project "Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power" in the area of smart grid, including modelling and optimisation.
Impact We submitted a joint application for a PhD studentship to Energy Technology Partnership in 2017 and was funded.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Xian Jiaotong University 
Organisation Xi'an Jiaotong University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Dr Mingjia Li in Xi'an Jiaotong University and submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018. my contribution: expertise of PIV measurement and thermodynamics
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in thermodynamics and heat transfer
Impact Submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Chair/co-organise the workshop - Seasonal Thermal Storage for Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Seasonal Thermal Storage (STS) projects and technologies are allowing regions to decarbonise their heating by allowing heat to be collected during the summer, stored, and then used in the winter when peak heat demand occurs. STS projects are successfully up and running in several countries but not yet in Scotland.

This event aims to introduce the concept of STS, how it can add value to local and national energy systems, and the technologies involved. We will hear from experts who have been delivering STS projects in North West Europe, and who have been appraising the potential of STS to best be integrated into energy systems in Scotland.

The event will be useful for anyone from both the public and private sector who are in an energy planning, financing, or research role and would like to learn more about energy storage options beyond electrical batteries, and how alternative storage forms can provide key services to local and national energy systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Engagement with UK Committee on Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Round table meeting organised by ETP to engage with with Chris Stark, CEO of the UK Committee on Climate Change, 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meetings with the Ethiopian Ambassdor to the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Hosted Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Dr. Hailemichael Afework Aberra and his team at the University of Glasgow during a short Prof John Struthers (Ethiopia's Honorary Consul for Scotland) led tour of Scottish orgnaisations with significant Ethiopian activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description University of Cartagena, Colombia, Seminar on sustainable geothermal development and envrionmental impacts of mining 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I was invited to provide a seminar to ca. 50 postgraduate and undergraduate pupils from the university (and some staff) on hydrogeological investigations and my active research. Much interest was generated and we are now exploring the possibility of hosting visiting students from the University of Cartagena on these subjects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018