Office of Policy

U.S. and Israel Hold Capstone Workshop on Integrated Energy and Desalination Designs

June 5, 2017

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The U.S. and Israel held a capstone workshop on designing integrated energy and desalination systems in Jerusalem on May 17-18, 2017. The workshop was attended by about 30 experts from industry, academia, and the public sector in the U.S. and Israel. It featured presentations by U.S. and Israeli teams competing in the U.S.-Israel Integrated Energy and Desalination Design Challenge. The workshop also featured panel discussions and tours of the Sorek desalination plant and the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant. Teams’ designs were evaluated by expert judges from the U.S. and Israel, all of whom provided constructive feedback and ideas to further improve teams’ designs.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA) selected the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) team as the U.S. challenge winner. Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources (MIEW) plans to select the Israeli winner after the designs are further developed.

DOE and MIEW launched the challenge in April 2016 as part of the effort to expand cooperation on energy-related research and development between the U.S. and Israel. Both countries are interested in improving the energy performance, efficiency, and flexibility of desalination systems to increase the options for water provisioning under different conditions in water-scarce regions. The challenge has stimulated thinking and sharing of ideas on novel desalination system designs meeting these goals.

The ORNL-led team’s innovative design can accommodate multiple water sources as inputs and has potential to provide demand response and ancillary services to the electric grid. The team met goals of the challenge by demonstrating the ability to economically balance input and output flows of water, electricity, and wastes, while addressing water demand, electricity system service market opportunities, and environmental goals. ORNL’s team included diverse contributors, including partners from Columbia University, Hazen and Sawyer DPC, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The U.S. side of the challenge is informed by activities across DOE relating to the energy-water nexus, building from the 2014 DOE report entitled The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities. For example, the challenge is related to research supported by DOE on low-cost, low-energy desalination, as well as work on improving connectivity between energy models and water models to address grid flexibility issues.

The Israeli side of the challenge includes long-term funding supporting R&D in academia and industry to address the energy-water nexus. The Ministry is also active in European frameworks in this area, such as the Water Joint Programming Initiative (Water JPI) supported by the Horizon 2020 framework program for research and innovation.

The U.S. and Israel sides plan to continue collaboration on flexible desalination as the challenge projects move to the next phase. Beyond the challenge, DOE and MIEW cooperate through a number of other efforts. A centerpiece of cooperation is the annual U.S.-Israel Energy Dialogue, a comprehensive inter-agency forum that includes policy and technical discussions at the level of senior officials, program managers, and researchers and framed by the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Agreement. Most recently, the 2015 Dialogue focused on the areas of oil and gas development, oil and gas research, energy-water nexus, energy sector cybersecurity, post-doctoral research exchanges, clean energy development, and other topics. Israel will host the next Dialogue. In addition, the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program provides awards to Israeli and American companies partnering on research and development projects. BIRD Energy has supported companies working to bring to market technology in various sustainable energy areas.

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