Constructal design of distributed energy systems: Solar power and water desalination

S. Lorente, A. Bejan*, K. Al-Hinai, A. Z. Sahin, B. S. Yilbas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Here we show the fundamental tradeoffs that underpin the design of a distributed energy system with two objectives: the production and distribution of electric power driven by solar heating, and desalinated water produced by consuming solar power. We show analytically that larger solar power plants and desalination plants are more efficient than smaller plants. This phenomenon of economies of scale is countered by the greater losses associated with larger distribution networks. From this conflict emerges the proper allocation of nodes of production of power and water on a territory. We show that as the individual needs of power and water increase in time, the sizes of solar plants and desalination plants increase, and so does the size of the territory served by each power plant. At the same time, the territory served by each desalination plant decreases, and this means that the number of desalination plants allocated to one power plant increases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2213-2218
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) for the support received through the Project # IN100025.


  • Constructal
  • Desalination
  • Distributed energy systems
  • Landscape design
  • Size effect
  • Solar
  • Sustainable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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