DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer inaugurated DEWA’s Ground Station at the Research and Development (R&D) Centre at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai has inaugurated a ground station to track and communicate with satellites of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), inaugurated DEWA’s Ground Station at the Research and Development (R&D) Centre in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

The independent ground station, which is part of DEWA’s Space-D programme, is capable of tracking and communicating with DEWA’s satellites at their low Earth orbit of 400 to 700km.

Waleed Bin Salman, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Excellence at DEWA; Dr Ali Rashid Al Aleeli, Vice President of R&D, Business Development and Excellence at DEWA, attended the inauguration along with the R&D Centre’s staff.

Al Tayer said: “Through the Space-D programme, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in January 2021, we aim to make nano satellites a complementing technology to the ground IoT [Internet of Things] communications network. This will support the digitisation of the power and water networks, enhance the planning, operations, and preventative maintenance for the generation, distribution, and transmission divisions as well as the smart grids and the electric vehicle charging stations.”

He added: “This will also cut costs, improve investment of DEWA’s assets, share knowledge and experience, as well as train DEWA’s Emirati staff. During Q1 of 2023, we plan to launch a 6U nanosatellite with customised high-resolution image sensing technology specifically designed for DEWA’s use cases.”

The R&D Centre designed the satellite LoRa IoT terminals to be capable of communicating using Infra-X LoRa terrestrial as well as LoRa Space-D satellite communication networks. It is a type of new wireless protocol designed for long-range, low-power communications, to expand the coverage of the existing terrestrial communication network.

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Benefits and uses

Once the satellites are operational, remote asset data can be collected at a much lower cost and in a much faster time compared to expanding the coverage of the terrestrial network, especially in areas with rough terrain, such as mountains, forests or deserts. The accuracy of weather forecasting can be improved as well as climate factors including irradiance, dust and cloud movement. The use cases of the ground station will include monitoring of water salinity, water temperature, water quality, and fog detection and forecasting at the Jebel Ali Power Plant and Water Desalination Complex.

DEWA is the first utility in the world to use nanosatellites to improve operations, maintenance and planning of electricity and water networks. Launching the 3U nanosatellite has enabled the R&D team to gain the latest knowledge and experience to understand the effectiveness and value of the IoT nanosatellite constellation in supporting utilities such as DEWA to improve the management of their power grid and water transmission and distribution networks.