Research & Development (R&D) Centre

Research & Development (R&D) Centre

The DEWA R&D Centre, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, aims to become a global platform that develops and tests innovative solutions to enhance the operations and services of DEWA. The Centre’s research areas include solar power, water, smart grid integration, and energy efficiency. These core areas of the R&D are supported by 3 Enablers: Fourth Industrial Revolution (including AI, IoT, Robotics & Drones, 3D Printing & Advanced Materials), Energy System Analyses, and Space. Through Space-D, the Centre develops several niche use-cases for grid and water networks.

The R&D Centre infrastructure includes:
  • Solar indoor testing and accelerated aging lab
  • Outdoor Test Facility (OTF) for continuous monitoring of solar photovoltaic module performance in actual conditions, a Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) testing facility, and a Cleaning Test Field for robotic solutions
  • Labs to support Robotics and Drone, Advanced Materials and Characterization, and Internet of things (IoT)
  • High Performance Computing Cluster
  • Several types of 3D printers (metal, plastic PLA, ABS, Nylon, composites, clay etc.)
  • High Performance Computing Cluster
  • Energy Storage Testing and Validation Field
  • Green Hydrogen Pilot
  • Photovoltaic-driven Reverse Osmosis and Trans-Membrane Distillation (TMD) system
  • Satellite ground station for DEWA’s space initiative (Space-D) and more.

Vision and Mission

The Centre’s goal is to become a globally leading platform for developing and demonstrating promising solutions for future energy and water systems. Its mission is to generate value for DEWA through cutting-edge applied research to ensure that DEWA and its ecosystem remain at the forefront of providing world-class services cost-effectively

The Centre adopts international R&D best practices and supports the objectives of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. The research and development activities are conducted in-house and in cooperation with local and international institutions

Research Areas Activities

Solar Research Area

The Solar Research Area studies ways to improve solar photovoltaic technologies to mitigate the effects of soiling and extreme desert conditions on the performance of solar photovoltaic panels. It leverages the results and knowledge collected from testing PV modules long-term performance to inform the production of desert-ready PV modules and to develop appropriate standards. The Solar Resource Assessment and Forecasting program develops methods to accurately forecast solar irradiance and power output in order to improve the overall integration of solar in the DEWA grid.

Water Research Area

The Water Research Area assesses and develops sustainable solutions for the desalination and purification of water with a primary focus on reverse osmosis, enabling the use of solar power, detecting and reducing water transmission losses, and reducing resource use by minimising brine effluent.

Smart Grid Integration Research Area

The Smart Grid Integration Research Area evaluates and develops systems to facilitate and optimise the integration of renewables in the grid, maintaining power quality standards, and further improving the overall performance and reliability of grid operations. This includes the use of electricity storage systems (chemical, thermal, and mechanical technologies), and the aggregation of distributed energy and storage resources, such as Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) and electric vehicle chargers.

Energy Efficiency Research Area

The Energy Efficiency Research Area fosters smart and sustainable development, reduces the waste of energy by improving the efficiency of energy systems (with a focus on cooling), and overall accelerate the clean energy transition. Its research work identifies, develops, and validates innovative solutions that enable smart and efficient energy use in the built environment, guide demand response measures, provide detailed building energy forecasting models, and improve the efficiency of energy conversion processes.

Space Research Area

The Space Research Area aims to support DEWA with high-efficiency, low-cost remote sensing & operations using satellites and ground station capabilities. Its developed solutions are designed specifically to address utility needs, including substation feeder monitoring, asset integrity, and enriching weather forecasting services. DEWA launched its first IoT nanosatellite, DEWASAT-1, in 2022 and plans to launch the remote sensing DEWASAT-2 in 2023. DEWA was the world’s first utility to launch nanosatellites to enhance the maintenance and planning of electricity and water networks.

Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR)

4IR enables the effective development of solutions that support the core research areas mentioned earlier. Its robotics and drone solutions are used to provide inspection and maintenance services using unmanned/autonomous operations across the whole utility value chain (e.g. photovoltaic plants, transmission line inspection and maintenance). The Artificial Intelligence (AI) team develops, tests, and integrates AI technologies for the optimisation of grid operations, short-term solar forecasting etc. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables remote monitoring diagnostics, and power and asset management using smart sensors and analytics with artificial intelligence and cloud capabilities. The advanced materials team provide expertise in the form of forensic analysis of materials to detect failures and the development of advanced energy storage systems (batteries and supercapacitors). Finally, the 3D printing team is developing 3D printing capabilities for addressing DEWA’s spare parts and rapid prototyping needs. The facility currently operates 16 3D Printing systems that can utilise more than 20 materials which can cover a wide range of applications and use cases within DEWA.

Energy System Analysis Research

Energy System Analysis Research develops and applies advanced capabilities for joint technical and economic assessment of energy-related technologies, systems, and policies. The area develops energy models, lifecycle assessment models, and business strategy assessments to support DEWA’s future readiness. This area models and assesses new energy system configurations and technologies at the macro level with a focus on cost-optimal integration of renewable energy systems and strategies for deploying new energy technologies.