Solar Powered Desalination Plants

workers installing solar panels during the day

Solar Powered Desalination Plants

Next to air, water is the most basic necessity of life. One can survive more than a week without food, but only days without water. John. F Kennedy once said: “If we could ever competitively, at a cheap rate, get fresh water from saltwater, …(this) would be in the long-range interests of humanity which could really dwarf any other scientific accomplishments.”

 

Solar Water Farms

Solar water farms are the newest, and possibly the most amazing, use of solar panels on the planet. In the past year, companies have gone beyond using solar energy to make electricity to supply power to homes and buildings. On the other side of the earth, these companies have people brave enough and smart enough to tackle the most challenging problem of our time, water scarcity.

Elemental Water Makers

It’s here! Not only is there technology to change seawater to freshwater “at a cheap rate,” but it is sustainable! A few new companies have made desalination plants powered by the elements. Elemental Water Makers is the company that developed the world’s first solar-powered reverse osmosis plant. They use only the sun, sea, earth and wind to make freshwater from saltwater. They also use gravity for power when the sun is down so the pump runs continuously.

GivePower

GIvepower, a non-governmental organization (NGO) from the U.S., turned Kenya’s ocean water into sustainable, clean drinking water by building a solar water farm in Kiunga, Kenya, to supply water for 35,000 people every day. After a terrible five-year drought, the town’s people had to walk an hour each way to get brackish water that they used to drink, cook with, do laundry and bathe in. Children were dying of kidney failure. The village people were basically poisoning their families with this water, so the people at GivePower were determined to do something about it.

GivePower started by putting solar power in 2500 schools in 17 countries. Then, last year, they decided to build a solar-powered water desalination plant, where they took 20’ shipping containers and installed a 75,000 liter per day system that was designed to work with a solar panel array to turn that saltwater to drinking water.

How much does it cost to desalinate water?

Water desalination technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. The price tag to turn sea water or brackish groundwater into fresh, clean drinking water is consistently dropping. In fact, in some places, like Los Angeles California, it now costs less to turn seawater to fresh water than it is to pump fresh water from Northern California to Southern California. Although the number can vary according to salt content, land prices, and energy and labor costs, it ranges between around $1 to more than $2 to convert 264 gallons of seawater into freshwater. Two people normally use that much water in a day in the U.S. On the other hand, the price to build dams and pump fresh water is steadily rising. Soon it will be more cost effective to turn seawater into freshwater.

 

Solar Panels Used to Supply Water and Energy

Solar panels are used for many different things, from charging our cell phones to supplying electricity to our house. Unless you live by the ocean, your water will probably not be put through a desalination plant first. However, Las Vegas has a plentiful supply of sun and it lowers energy costs to install solar panels. So what are you waiting for? Call Sol-up today to see how they can help you save!

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