A floating offshore desalination plant is to extract drinking water from the sea

Ocean Oasis’ Gaia system is designed to desalinate water using wave power.

ocean oasis

Plans to use ocean energy to desalinate water received another boost this week after a Norwegian firm unveiled a system to be put through its paces in waters off Gran Canaria.

In a statement Monday, Oslo-based Ocean Oasis said its wave-powered prototype, which it described as a “floating offshore desalination plant,” was called Gaia.

The facility, 10 meters high, 7 meters in diameter and weighing around 100 tons, was assembled in Las Palmas and is being tested on the Canary Islands’ Oceanic Platform.

Ocean Oasis said its technology would “enable the production of fresh water from ocean water, using the energy of the waves to perform a desalination process and pump potable water to coastal users.”

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The company said the development of its prototype has received financial support from a number of organizations including Innovation Norway and the Gran Canaria Economic Promotion Society.

Ocean Oasis’ main investor is the Grieg Maritime Group, headquartered in Bergen, Norway.

desalination

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the Canary Islands Institute of Technology, the islands “were a pioneer in producing desalinated water at an affordable cost”.

A presentation by the ITC shows some of the reasons for this. He describes the “water singularities” of the Canary Islands and refers to a “structural water deficit due to low rainfall, high soil permeability and overexploitation of aquifers”.

During desalination – what multinational energy company Iberdrola describes as “the process by which the dissolved mineral salts in water are removed” – considered a useful tool when addressing the drinking water supply of countries where supply is a problem. The UN has determined that this poses significant environmental problems.

It states that “the fossil fuels normally used in the energy-intensive desalination process contribute to global warming and the toxic brine it produces pollutes coastal ecosystems”.

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Against this background, projects for the more sustainable desalination of water will become increasingly important in the coming years.

The idea of ​​using waves to desalinate energy is not unique to the project being carried out in the Canary Islands. In April, for example, the US Department of Energy announced the winners of the final stage of a competition focused on wave-powered desalination.

Back in the Canary Islands, Ocean Oasis announced that it would build a second facility after testing at the PLOCAN facility. “At this stage, the prototype will be scaled up with the capacity to produce water for consumption,” the company said.

While the potential of ocean energy is exciting, the footprint of wave and tidal power projects remains very small compared to other renewable energies.

In data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal power capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020.

For wave energy, 681 kW was installed, which according to the OEE means a tripling. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power was connected to the grid in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal power capacity was installed.

For comparison: According to the industry association WindEurope, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021.

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