ISSN 0003-701X, Applied Solar Energy, 2019, Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 260–264. © Allerton Press, Inc., 2019.
Russian Text © The Author(s), 2019, published in Geliotekhnika, 2019, No. 4, pp. 298–303.
An Offshore Wind-Power-Based Water Desalination Complex
as a Response to an Emergency in Water Supply to Northern Crimea
V. V. Ch eb oxarova, *, B. A. Yakimovicha, L. M. Abd Alic, and F. M. Al-Rufeeb
aSevastopol State University, Sevastopol, 299015 Russia
bWas it Unive rsit y, Wasit, 52000 Ir aq
cUniversity of Kufa, Najaf, 54001 Iraq
Received March 24, 2019; revised May 16, 2019; accepted June 13, 2019
Abstract—This paper is concerned with the problem of water shortage in northern Crimea. It shows that the
Crimean Peninsula lacks access to fresh water from natural sources. For decades, water supply was provided
mostly from the Dnieper River via the North Crimean Canal. An emergency situation arose in water supply
in Crimea after the canal was shut down. It has been shown that seawater desalination from renewables is the
only reliable way to tackle the problem. The work reviews perspective desalination methods, suggests a new
schematic of a desalination complex based on Wind Energy Marine Units, and determines key parameters of
Keywords: wind power plant, water supply, fresh water, sea water, reverse osmosis
In every country, quality of life and economic
growth strongly depend on the availability of two main
natural resources, which are water and energy [1–4].
Statement of the Problem of Water Supply in Crimea
In contrast with other coastal regions of Russia, the
Crimean Peninsula features low moisture. The annual
precipitation averages 300–360 mm in most areas. At
the same time, abundant sunshine and high insolation
levels lead to increased soil water evaporation. As a
result, the main crops of the Crimean steppe experi-
ence precipitation shortfall of 300–500 mm annually,
while the percipitation/evaporation ratio ranges from
0.3 to 0.6.
In the peninsula, 150 rivers form the drainage sys-
tem, but all of them are minor, with 92% of these rivers
being less than 10 km in length. Freshets (80–95% of
discharge) occur in the winter–spring period in
Crimea. In the summer, many rivers dry up, including
in part the streambed of the longest one, the Salgir
River. The long-term average annual runoff amounts
to about 580 mln m3 annually. Up to 140 mln m3 are
used. Prior to 2014, the river runoff provided for
approximately 12–15% of the total annual freshwater
consumed in the peninsula.
Likewise, Crimea has relatively scarce groundwa-
ter. The groundwater diversion was 68.54 mln m3
(4.41% of the total consumption) in 2013. There are
more than 300 lakes and limans (almost all of which
are saline) in Crimea, as well as 23 water reservoirs,
with a total normal volume of about 400 mln m3. Of
the latter, eight reservoirs (total capacity 145 mln m3),
including the Mezhgornoe water reservoir located in
close proximity to Simferopol, the biggest Crimean
city, were filled through the North Crimean Canal
(NCC) before 2014.
Thus, the Crimean Peninsula is a water-stressed
region of Russia, reliable water provision to which is
not attainable by means of its own natural sources.
The NCC has been a primary source for freshwater
in Crimea (80–87% of withdrawal) in recent decades.
During the period of seasonal operation (spring–fall),
the NCC delivered 320 m3/s to Crimea with an average
annual discharge of up to 50 m3/s. Losses in transpor-
tation were estimated to range from 20 to 45%, accord-
ing to various sources.
Eighty percent of water from the NCC was allo-
cated to meet the needs of agriculture, including 60%
allocated to rice production. The length of the canals
and pipelines of the irrigation system amounted to
11000 km with an irrigated land area of 300 000–
400000 ha in particular years in Crimea.
RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
APPLIED SOLAR ENERGY Vol. 55 No. 4 2019
AN OFFSHORE WIND-POWER-BASED WATER DESALINATION COMPLEX AS 261
After the NCC water bed was blocked by Ukraine
in April 2014, the majority of the northern and eastern
regions of Crimea were facing a threat of a regional
level emergency, which is still there. Inhabited areas
experience a water supply deficit 0.26 km3/year. Diffi-
culties in drinking water supply primarily occurred in
cities of the Crimean east and southeast (Kerch, Feo-
dosia, and Sudak). In 2015, the area of irrigated lands
was reduced to 13 400 ha irrigated from local sources. A
switch to drip irrigation having drawbacks occurred. The
amount of water conveyed for irrigation dropped from
700 mln m3in 2013 to 17.7 mln m3in 2015 (i.e., by a fac-
tor of 40).
The NCC water bed remains underfilled through-
out most of its length. In 2014, there was a project car-
ried out to fill off-channel reservoirs of eastern Crimea
via NCC sections by water diversion from small water
reservoirs in the foothills along soil, streambed of the
Biyuk–Karasu River. This, however, is accompanied
by considerable losses. Currently, eastern sections of
the NCC are filled solely from tributaries of the
Biyuk–Karasu drainage basin and three groups of
artesian wells (with a projected volume of 40 mln m3
annually) due to a lack of usable storage in the water
reservoirs. This ensures a supply of drinking water to
the population, but does not eliminate the main con-
straints on water supply to industrial and agricultural
Below, we consider practicable solutions to the
provision of water in Crimea and their shortcomings.
Findings of the analysis are summarized in Table 1 and
demonstrate that the most promising appears to be to
set up a large-scale desalination complex based on
renewable energy sources (RESs) and wind power, in
particular, on the Crimean Peninsula itself.
RES-Based Water Desalination Background
Efforts to desalinate brackish and seawater gave rise
to a rather large number of various technologies,
which fit into either of two groups: evaporation and
membrane. They have been described in detail in the
technical literature. This notwithstanding, only three
desalination methods are applied in existing medium-
to large-size plants (more than 1000 m3 per day), that
is, multistage flash (MSF), multieffect distillation
(MED), and reverse osmosis (RO). The MSF and
MED methods fall under the evaporation approach
and are essentially the same. The RO is a membrane
technology. Characteristics of the aforementioned
methods are presented in Table 2.
The largest desalination plants, which have a
capacity of more than 1.5 mln m3/day, operate on the
basis of MSF and MED technologies using heat from
combustion of inexpensive energy sources in the Per-
sian Gulf states . At the same time, Table 2 shows
that the RO method is better for meeting the need to
minimize freshwater cost. It is this method the appli-
cation of which prevails in the Mediterranean, which
is similar in climate to Crimea . The largest desali-
nation plant, which is 330000 m3/day in capacity,
relying on this method, is located in Israel.
RESs have not yet gained a widespread commercial
use due to high power cost and low level of their stabil-
ity. However, multiple research works are under way.
An overview of desalination technologies that to the
Table 1. Analysis of solutions to water supply in Crimea
Resume Dnieper water supply via the NCC water
Unlikely on political grounds. Will not remove the issue of water self-
reliance of Crimea from the agenda in any event
Intensify use of groundwater aquifers Limitations include groundwater storage and amount of precipitation
in the peninsula. Fraught with increase in salinity. Does nothing to
resolve the problem fundamentally
Transfer Kuban River waters over the Kerch
Contingent on a considerable reduction of water supply to consumers
in the North Caucuses
Transfer Don River water through the Azov Sea
(on the seabed)
Very costly. Fraught with risk for Azov Sea ecology
Large-scale desalination in the northern districts
Desalination is energy intensive (min 3 kW h/m3). Crimea is a power-
deficient region but features significant renewable resources
APPLIED SOLAR ENERGY Vol. 55 No. 4 2019
CHEBOXAROV et al.
best advantage can be coupled with renewable power is
presented in . Work  describes the seawater
desalination plant based on the RO technology with
two wind turbines, 230 kW in capacity each, in the
Wind power is among the renewable energy sources
accessible in Crimea. According to , cost of wind
turbine is a dominating component to the price of
water desalted using the wind power. Thus, solving a
problem of considerable cost reduction of wind tur-
bines appears to be of primary importance for the
large-scale water desalination in Crimea.
Wind-Powered Marine Units as Energy Sources
for Large-Scale Desalination
An opportunity to reduce cost of desalted water is
offered by a new concept of wind turbines with a large-
size floating rotor. a Wind Energy Marine Unit
(WEMU). It uses the effect of reducing the capital
costs per unit while scaling up the installations. A
WEMU turbine features large-size low-speed rotor, rest-
ing upon water surface, with vertical rotation axis. The
plant and its study are described in detail in, e.g., .
Work  proposes a scheme of WEMU turbine
utilization for seawater desalination using the MSF
technology. Figure 2 shows a schematic of the WEMU
design with a desalination installation based on the
RO method. Here, seawater is colored in blue and
freshwater is dark blue. Seawater supplied by an auxil-
iary feeding pump FP to the seawater transfer tank
(SWT) is then pumped by P to osmosis module with
membrane M with flow Q and pressure of 3–6 MPa.
Pump P is driven directly by wind turbine WT. After
having passed through the membrane (brown color),
freshwater with flow Q1 is supplied to freshwater tank
FWT. From there, the product is delivered ashore by
pump PP via submarine pipeline. High-head hydrau-
lic turbine HT (flow Q2) with electric generator G
recuperates power of pressurized seawater. Thus-gen-
Fig. 1. Wind-Turbine Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (WT-SWRO) system general layout .
Wind energy unit Desalination plant
Table 2. Characteristics of desalination technologies 
Process Thermal energy,
Full price of water,
MSF 7.5–12 2.5–4 10–16 1200—2500 0.8–1.5
MED 4–7 1.5–2 5.5–9 900—2000 0.7–1.2
RO – 3–4 3–4 900—2500 0.5–1.2
APPLIED SOLAR ENERGY Vol. 55 No. 4 2019
AN OFFSHORE WIND-POWER-BASED WATER DESALINATION COMPLEX AS 263
erated electrical power is supplied to feed motors of
pumps FP and partially to a grid for other consumers.
The proposed scheme has wide opportunities for con-
trolling the conversion parameters, such as ratio Q1/Q2
and of energy accumulation, which will serve to opti-
mize the process of obtaining the minimum cost of the
water under conditions of an unsteady wind speed u.
Desalination plants can be installed in large quan-
tities on the shelf sea along the northern coast of
Crimea, and the desalted water will be pumped into
the currently dry NCC bed. According to the State
Water Supply Committee of the Republic of Crimea, the
NCC operation is estimated to yield profit provided the
flow of at least Q2 = 10 m3/s = 864000 m3/day, which is
equivalent to one-fifth of the NCC discharge under
the assumed year-round service. This will require an
average annual capacity of the desalination installa-
tions (based on RO technology) of Nreq = 110 MW.
The aggregate rated capacity of wind power installa-
tions is Nnom = 400 MW. The number of wind power
installations with a single unit capacity of Nun = 8 MW
is n = 50. Total offshore wind farm area on the shelf
S= 50 km2. The cost of the desalination complex is
estimated to reach 16–20 billion Russian rubles.
Thus, the introduction of wind-power-based
water-pumping complexes in Crimea offers an oppor-
tunity to partially solve the problem of water supply, in
places lacking a centralized power supply in particular.
Independence of operation and electrical energy gen-
erated at no charge additionally support opting for this
scheme of water supply.
This work was supported by an internal grant of Sevasto-
pol State University.
We are grateful to our colleagues at the Institute of
Nuclear Energy and Industry, Sevastopol State University,
for their continuous support.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
1. Kartalidis, A., Kampragkou, E., Assimacopoulos, D.,
and Tzen, E., Responding to water challenges in
Greece through desalination: energy considerations,
Int. J. Water Resour. Develop., 2015, p. 14.
2. Kaldellis, J.K. and Kondili, E.M., The water shortage
problem in the Aegean archipelago islands: cost-effec-
tive desalination prospects, Desalination, 2007, no. 216,
3. Viola, F., Sapiano, M., Schembri, M., et al., The state
of water resources in major mediterranean islands, Wa-
ter Resour., 2014, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 639–648.
4. Wood, D. and Freere, P., Stand-alone wind energy sys-
tems A2, in Stand-Alone and Hybrid Wind Energy Sys-
tems, Kaldellis, J.K., Ed., Cambridge: Woodhead,
2010, pp. 165–19 0.
Fig. 2. Scheme of operation of the WEMU wind turbine with a desalination installation.
APPLIED SOLAR ENERGY Vol. 55 No. 4 2019
CHEBOXAROV et al.
5. Ghaffour, N., Technical review and evaluation of the
economics of water desalination: current and future
challenges for better water supply sustainability, Desali-
nation, 2013, no. 309, pp. 197–207.
6. Lattemann, S. and Hopner, T., Environmental impact
and impact assessment of seawater desalination, Desali-
nation, 2008, no. 220, pp. 1–15.
7. Eltawil, M.A., A review of renewable energy technolo-
gies integrated with desalination systems, Renewable
Sustainable Energy Rev., 2009, no. 13, pp. 2245–2262.
8. Carta, J.A. et al., Operational analysis of an innovative
wind powered reverse osmosis system installed in the
Canary Islands, Solar Energy, 2003, no. 75, pp. 33–48.
9. Koklas, P.A. and Papathanassiou, S.A., Component
sizing for an autonomous wind-driven desalination
plant, Renewable Energy, 2006, no. 31, pp. 2122–2139.
10. Cheboxarov, Val.V. and Cheboxarov, Vic.V., The study
of large floating wind turbines, Vestn. DVO RAN, 2005,
no. 6, pp. 46–51.
11. Cheboxarov, Val.V. and Cheboxarov, Vic.V., Develop-
ment of high-capacity desalination plant driven by off-
shore wind turbine, in Proceedings of the ISES Solar
World Congress 2007, Beijing, China: Springer, 2007,
vol. 5, pp. 2565–2569.
Translated by E. Kuznetsova