Space assets and their combination with technology enablers, including but not limited to internet of things (IoT) and 5G, data analytics and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, unmanned transport (e.g.: aerial and maritime) systems, provide a unique opportunity for developing applications and services to support the utility sector. The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) have been discussing possible joint activities based on their strong interest in the development of innovative space-based technologies and applications to support safety, affordability and environmental sustainability for the utility sector. The discussions have been consolidated in a Memorandum of Intent that was signed with the main purpose of pursuing space-based activities to advance innovation and sustainability in the utilities sector, focused on energy and water.
The objective of the cooperation is to foster the development of innovative space-based applications to support safety, affordability, operational effectiveness, agility in resource deployment and environmental sustainability for the energy and water utility sector.
As a concrete step following the signature of the Memorandum of Intent, ESA and DEWA are preparing to launch an innovative joint Call for Proposals, inviting companies to submit their ideas for deploying and demonstrating sustainable downstream space services addressing DEWA’s priorities in water management, including improving the efficiency of water infrastructure usage, water treatment efficiencies, preventative infrastructure maintenance, water policy creation and information and water grid security and infrastructure security.
Another opportunity is offered by the “Commercial Applications of Space-Enabled Robotics for Energy” thematic call, referring to the physical structures and networks that are used to transport and store energy. The call will offer the opportunity to include DEWA input on specific use cases as well as partnering on the selected activities. Sustainable applications will require the establishment of a wide ecosystem including terrestrial and satellite connectivity providers, which will allow application developers and service providers to deliver innovative and sustainable services for a longer term efficient, competitive utilities sector.
DEWA is also joining the ESA initiative “Task Force for Innovation in Energy Through Space” (https://business.esa.int/energy-task-force), which was launched in October 2022 with the main purpose of leveraging the use of space applications to advance sustainable innovative services addressing the clean green energy ecosystem and supporting the growth of a sustainable green economy. The Task Force today comprises eight international members: the European Distribution System Operators for Smart Grids (E.DSO), European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Global Alliance for Sustainable Energy, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), DECOM North Sea, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) and Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC).
“Since its launch in January 2021, DEWA’s Space-D programme has improved the operations, maintenance, and planning of our electricity and water networks with the support of nanosatellite technology, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and the help of satellite communications and earth observation technologies. DEWA has successfully launched two nanosatellites, DEWA SAT-1 and DEWA SAT-2, making it the first utility worldwide to utilise nanosatellites for improving the maintenance and planning of electricity and water networks. We are pleased to cooperate with the European Space Agency to develop this programme further and provide a role model for other utilities worldwide to take advantage of space technology in the power and water sectors,” said His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
“This partnership with DEWA provides a unique opportunity to work together in the development of innovative space-based applications and services for the utility sector. The collaboration is also an indicator of the potential space assets have to offer in the advancement of the utilities sector for a sustainable digital future. Together, we will support the emergence of innovative space solutions creating major impact in relation to water and energy sustainability and security” stated Rita Rinaldo, Head of Projects and Studies Implementation at the European Space Agency (ESA).