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Tapping water from the sky

30m-tall revolutionary marvel in Dubai expected to draw interest from around the world

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News Archives
A miniature model of Eole water turbain at the WFES exhibition yesterday.
Gulf News

Dubai: Something is in the wind at Ghantoot nature reserve.

And it promises to put Dubai on the global stage once again as host to revolutionary sustainable eco-technology that can provide fresh water and electricity to even the most remote driest corners of the planet.

A new French-built wind turbine that condenses desert air into 1,000 litres of water daily solely using wind and solar power is under installation at the wildlife area — the 30-metre tall, 12-tonne marvel should be completed by late March to provide all water and electrical needs of host Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG).

Officials with EMEG, which manages the reserve, have entered a partnership agreement with wind turbine manufacturers Eole Water — based in the south of France — to install and test the new turbine.

Major Ali Saqr Al Suwaidi, EMEG Chairman, told Gulf News that the turbine will augment a new no-carbon policy being implemented at the environmentally sensitive Ghantoot reserve, a stretch of pristine beach and tidal pools that hosts nesting sea turtles and their young.

“This new wind turbine is a big step forward for us, it’s a big thing. People can now only enter this area by horse or on foot. We are doing our best to make it a no-carbon area,” Al Suwaidi said in an interview.

Al Suwaidi said EMEG office buildings at the reserve will be completely serviced by the new wind turbine which will provide electricity and water to power air conditioners and lighting.

“This is all about producing very clean energy and water. It is a big challenge but we will do it,” Al Suwaidi said. “We hope next month we will be ready and we will be able to power our buildings.”

Initial plans call for a two-year testing regimen of the turbine to further document the French technology performance as the company plans to expand the device to arid countries throughout the Gulf, Middle East and around the globe.

The WMS 1000 turbine has undergone punishing field trials in Abu Dhabi since last year to determine its practicality in desert conditions and Eole has now decided to relocate its testing regimen in Dubai, said Thibault Janin, marketing and communications director of Eole Water.

Testing, to date, has successfully shown that the new wind turbines can withstand harsh desert conditions prone to sandstorms, aridity and intense heat reaching upwards of 50C, he said.

Early tests indicated the turbine was producing on average, 62 litres of fresh water an hour but with the turbine’s installation nearer to the Gulf shoreline, it is expected to produce larger quantities of water given higher humidity levels at seaside.

“When we first came to the UAE, our idea was to promote the technology. The country is aware of water issues. It is open to new sustainable technologies. It has the capacity to speak of those technologies. We had to prove also that our specific turbine could fully work in difficult weather conditions such as sand, salt or pollution, Thibault told Gulf News from France.

“We made the first phase of test at Mussafah [close to Abu Dhabi] between November 2011 and March 2012. We have obtained very conclusive results both in quality and quantity. Now this phase is completed. We then started looking for a partner in order to implement the technology permanently in UAE. The EMEG is the partner we needed: they are open-minded to new technologies. They also share with us important values in the terms of protection of the environment.”

Environmental beacon

Janin said once installed, the UAE will become a world destination for other countries looking to harness the ability of the Eole Water wind turbines to produce fresh water and electricity in remote areas with no connections needed to a national electricity grid or potable water infrastructure system.

When installation is complete at Ghantoot reserve, Janin said Dubai will become an environmental beacon for sustainable energy solutions by showcasing the freestanding water wind turbine.

Janint said: “Eole Water will be able bring its customers and show the true potential of the turbine. I am sure they will be impressed with it.”

Global marketing of the new device has met with encouraging results, Janin said, as the company continues to “promote the technology in Europe, Asia and Africa. All major foreign media have been passionate to speak of the wind turbine. All await the implementation’s first pictures.”


How it works

The Eole Water wind turbine is all about water condensation.

Essentially, the wind turbine converts humidity in the air into a liquid state.

To do this, each wind turbine pulls “in the ambient air thanks to an air blower. Then we take out the humidity from this air thanks to a humidity condenser. We create an artificial dew point inside the device. The water produced is collected into the water tank [under the nacelle], and finally goes down through the mast to be treated [five levels of filtration] and is ready to be drunk,” said Thibault Janin, marketing and communications director for Eole Water.

Electricity generated is then used to push water through the water treatment system and into a storage tank as well as to run a self-cleaning system inside.

An added bonus to the wind turbine is that additional electricity can be routed to power remote settlements off the grid.

“We also possibly give the opportunity to the final user to switch on electricity production in order to supply local houses or strategic room. This can be done fully off-grid,” he said.

Eole Water’s wind turbine is completely independent and does not need external electrical connections, the company says, making it ideal for people who live in remote areas of the globe and have no safe drinking water.

“Eole Water has positioned this technology for remote communities with a population density up to 1,000 people, with no access to safe drinking and reliable energy.”


  • * 30 metres tall
  • * 12 tonnes weight
  • * 6 metre nacelle
  • * two metres width of nacelle
  • * Rotor diameter is 13 metres