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RP Siegel headshot

Highlights From the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi

Words by RP Siegel

Poking around the exhibit hall at the 2015 World Future Energy Summit, one of the key elements of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), there was much to see.

A substantial number of exhibits were still focused on oil and gas. Though I skipped most of those, I did stop to thumb through some of the energy projections for the future. ExxonMobil showed residential and commercial demand for oil remaining flat through 2040 and natural gas increasingly slightly, with both coal and biomass declining. Most of the growth in demand will be met by electricity, which is shown to nearly double between 2000 and 2040, according to the company's projections.

BP, on the other hand, offered projections for 2050, (on a pie chart without numbers) which shows solar comprising more than 40 percent of the total "technically-accessible energy resource." Second was nuclear at about 20 percent. Geothermal will provide about 15 percent, followed by wind (onshore and offshore) at close to 10 percent, according to BP's projetions. Oil and gas were little more than slivers on the chart, with the two combining for about the same portion as onshore wind.

Speaking of  wind, conference sponsor Masdar had an operational 3-D mockup of their London Array offshore wind farm. Sitting off the coast of England, the wind farm produces 630 megawatts from 175 turbines -- that's 3.6 MW each. Of course, those are tiny compared to the 8MW monsters introduced by Vestas last year. This industry doesn't stand still for anyone.

Nuclear power was also well represented with a number of vendors on hand. Right here in Abu Dhabi, there is a major project in the works, which I will write more about later in the week.
One interesting exhibitor was Gulf Power & Marine which was presenting a new 'solar hydrogen' capability. This is a type of solar photovoltaic (PV) plant with integrated hydrogen storage. Advertised as the "greenest power plant on the world market," the system uses solar PV to directly produce electricity while producing hydrogen at the same time.

The hydrogen system, developed by Linde, uses electrolysis to make hydrogen from sunlight, which is stored in tanks to be burned at night or during cloudy periods using a conventional gas turbine. The hydrogen portion requires three times as much solar as the direct generation, which says a lot about the cost of storage. Despite this, at the gigawatt scale, Gulf Power claims it can achieve an unmatched 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

That's based on an estimated $9 billion cost, amortized over a 25-year period. The technology is being offered with power generation capacities ranging from 100 MW to 1 GW.

Up to 75 percent of the water used to make the hydrogen can be reclaimed when the hydrogen is burned, resulting in a water consumption rate of only 145 cubic meters per hour for a 1GW plant. No plants have been built as of yet, but the company is at the show, ready to take orders.

On the more unusual side was the Green Float, a concept developed by the Japanese construction firm SHMZ. This is essentially a manmade island, floating in the ocean near the equator, where the temperature remains fairly constant.

At the center of the island will stand a 1-kilometer tall tower, atop of which will  be a 1 km diameter dish, which will receive energy beamed in from solar satellites. People will also live in the tower, hence the nickname City in the Sky. The island will also contain farms to grow food, fertilized by waste products from above. With the benefit of ocean sequestration, these manmade islands will potentially be carbon negative.

That only scratches the surface of all there was to see at the World Future Energy Summit, which itself was only a third of the exhibit space at ADSW -- not to mention the lectures, talks and ceremonies. But at least it will give you a taste.

Image credit RP Siegel

RP Siegel, PE, is an author, inventor and consultant. He has written for numerous publications ranging from Huffington Post to Mechanical Engineering. He and Roger Saillant co-wrote the successful eco-thriller Vapor Trails. RP, who is a regular contributor to Triple Pundit and Justmeans, sees it as his mission to help articulate and clarify the problems and challenges confronting our planet at this time, as well as the steadily emerging list of proposed solutions. His uniquely combined engineering and humanities background help to bring both global perspective and analytical detail to bear on the questions at hand. RP recently won the Masdar Blogging Competition and willing be  attending Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.

RP Siegel headshotRP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering,  Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. Contact: bobolink52@gmail.com


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