Image Credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones/Flickr

What happens when you combine a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) array with a water desalination project in the desert? The Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) is going to spend the next four years finding out as they begin testing a project dubbed the “Multi-Purpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar,” or MATS. To be located in the desert area of Burj Al Arab, it aims to develop multi-purpose units capable of simultaneously generating electricity from concentrated solar panel arrays while also desalinating water for human consumption.

The MATS project is a partnership between Egypt, Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and will judge the feasibility of using such units throughout the Mediterranean region. In a statement to SciDev, ASRT President Maged Al-Sherbiny said that he has wishes the units will be able to take advantage of “concentrated solar energy through small and middle scale facilities, to fulfill local requirements of power, heat, and desalinated water.” Units will be testing CSP technology developed by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), with the aim of generating one megawatt of power and desalinating 66,000 gallons of water each day. Al-Sherbiny hopes to one day export the technology to other African nations.

Funding for the test project is via a $28 million (22 million Euro) grant from the European Union’s $50.5 billion R & D program, the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Known as FP7 for short, it funds cooperative research throughout the EU in subject matters ranging from human health, agriculture, energy, security, nuclear science, and transportation.

A recent report estimated that CSP companies can expect to see revenue grow from $2.1 billion in 2012 to $8.6 billion in 2020. No doubt that if successful, the MATS project in Egypt will contribute to even more revenue growth for the industry.

[via SciDev]