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Energy solar energy  th  power to desalinate water  | Upload Solar

Solar Energy: Thè Power To Desalinate Water?

by: Moon Apple
solar energy  th  power to desalinate water  | Upload

The concentrating solar power field regularly takes a pounding from critics concerned about high costs and excess complexity, but the US Energy Department continues to be a fan. In the latest development, the agency is prepping to announce a funding opportunity to use advanced solar thermal technology to drive the cost of water desalination down, down, down.

Water, Water Everywhere

Upping the world’s supply of potable water is a key concern of global resource planners. An estimated 783 million people cannot access clean water, and 1.7 billion are at risk of water scarcity. Here’s an explainer from the United Nations. There is enough freshwater for everyone on Earth. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people (most of them children) die from the inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise.

Recommended: Blue Planet Earth: The Amount Of Water You Use

Concentrating Solar Power

Conventional desalination is based on reverse osmosis technology, forcing water through a membrane at high pressure. The high energy intensity of the process can be alleviated somewhat by deploying renewables instead of fossil fuels, but that still leaves open cost and efficiency issues.

Also, though renewable energy supply is infinite, the opportunities for financing, siting, and building renewable energy facilities are finite. In theory, abundance is nice, but as a practical matter of national policy, the Energy Department would like to see solar power and other renewables deployed as efficiently as possible. Apparently, reverse osmosis does not cut.

That’s where concentrating solar power (CSP) comes in. CSP plants collect solar power from a wide field and concentrate it on a narrow focal point to heat an energy carrier like molten salt or specialized oil. The carrier transfers heat energy to a steam boiler, and the steam is deployed to run turbines for generating electricity.

If you cut the process off at the steam boiler stage, you have an instant water desalination-by-distillation system. CleanTechnica covered one such solar-powered system to recover byproducts from spent agricultural water and distill the brine into freshwater. The byproduct angle is a key element because the company behind the system - Water Fx - counted on the value of recovered byproducts to help make the system commercially viable. Water Fx seems to have dropped off the media radar since then.

US Energy Dept. Ponders CSP Desalination

So far, the Energy Department has only issued a notice of intent for CSP-enabled desalination, so the agency may or may not come up with a funding opportunity. The opportunity will come through the SunShot Initiative’s CSP program. 
Concentrating solar plants, such as this parabolic trough plant in the Mojave Desert, are an emerging option for supplying the heat and electricity necessary for water desalination (Photograph: Shutterstock)
Photo by Shutterstock. Concentrating solar plants, such as this parabolic trough plant in the Mojave Desert, are an emerging option for supplying the heat and electricity necessary for water desalination. 

Recommended: Solar Power, Wind Turbines And The WaveRoller

Rather than utilizing high-value electricity as an energy input, solar thermal desalination can achieve lower costs than current reverse osmosis systems by lowering the cost of collecting and storing solar thermal energy and increasing thermal desalination technologies' efficiency. The Energy Department is looking at four areas, including low-cost ways to generate, store, and transport solar thermal heat, innovative new desalination systems that dovetail with solar thermal technology, integrated CSP and desalination systems new analytic tools aimed at promoting efficiency and commercial viability.

The agency is also interested in CSP-enabled technologies with wide-ranging applications. Industrial or commercial wastewater is a potential target, along with seawater, and applicants better are prepared to bring their A+ game:

Additionally, thermal desalination can be utilized over a wide range of salt content, making it attractive for applications that require very high salinity feedwater or zero-liquid discharge. Applicants will be expected to propose ideas that can dramatically decrease the cost of producing solar thermal energy, advance early-stage thermal desalination technologies, or design novel integrated systems that creatively use solar thermal energy to lower the cost of producing fresh water.

Before you go!

Recommended: Gravitricity: Key Energy Storage, Or Too Good To Be True?

Do you like this article about Gravitricity, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day.

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Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected], and we will write an interesting article based on your input.

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I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.

I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.

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Solar Energy: Thè Power To Desalinate Water?

The concentrating solar power field regularly takes a pounding from critics concerned about high costs and excess complexity, but the US Energy Department continues to be a fan. In the latest development, the agency is prepping to announce a funding opportunity to use advanced solar thermal technology to drive the cost of water desalination down, down, down. Water, Water Everywhere Upping the world’s supply of potable water is a key concern of global resource planners. An estimated 783 million people cannot access clean water, and 1.7 billion are at risk of water scarcity. Here’s an explainer from the United Nations. There is enough freshwater for everyone on Earth. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people (most of them children) die from the inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise. Recommended:  Blue Planet Earth: The Amount Of Water You Use Concentrating Solar Power Conventional desalination is based on reverse osmosis technology, forcing water through a membrane at high pressure. The high energy intensity of the process can be alleviated somewhat by deploying renewables instead of fossil fuels, but that still leaves open cost and efficiency issues. Also, though renewable energy supply is infinite, the opportunities for financing, siting, and building renewable energy facilities are finite. In theory, abundance is nice, but as a practical matter of national policy, the Energy Department would like to see solar power and other renewables deployed as efficiently as possible. Apparently, reverse osmosis does not cut. That’s where concentrating solar power (CSP) comes in. CSP plants collect solar power from a wide field and concentrate it on a narrow focal point to heat an energy carrier like molten salt or specialized oil. The carrier transfers heat energy to a steam boiler, and the steam is deployed to run turbines for generating electricity. If you cut the process off at the steam boiler stage, you have an instant water desalination-by-distillation system. CleanTechnica covered one such solar-powered system to recover byproducts from spent agricultural water and distill the brine into freshwater. The byproduct angle is a key element because the company behind the system - Water Fx - counted on the value of recovered byproducts to help make the system commercially viable. Water Fx seems to have dropped off the media radar since then. US Energy Dept. Ponders CSP Desalination So far, the Energy Department has only issued a notice of intent for CSP-enabled desalination, so the agency may or may not come up with a funding opportunity. The opportunity will come through the SunShot Initiative’s CSP program.  Photo by Shutterstock. Concentrating solar plants, such as this parabolic trough plant in the Mojave Desert, are an emerging option for supplying the heat and electricity necessary for water desalination.  Recommended:  Solar Power, Wind Turbines And The WaveRoller Rather than utilizing high-value electricity as an energy input, solar thermal desalination can achieve lower costs than current reverse osmosis systems by lowering the cost of collecting and storing solar thermal energy and increasing thermal desalination technologies' efficiency. The Energy Department is looking at four areas, including low-cost ways to generate, store, and transport solar thermal heat, innovative new desalination systems that dovetail with solar thermal technology, integrated CSP and desalination systems new analytic tools aimed at promoting efficiency and commercial viability. The agency is also interested in CSP-enabled technologies with wide-ranging applications. Industrial or commercial wastewater is a potential target, along with seawater, and applicants better are prepared to bring their A+ game: Additionally, thermal desalination can be utilized over a wide range of salt content, making it attractive for applications that require very high salinity feedwater or zero-liquid discharge. Applicants will be expected to propose ideas that can dramatically decrease the cost of producing solar thermal energy, advance early-stage thermal desalination technologies, or design novel integrated systems that creatively use solar thermal energy to lower the cost of producing fresh water. Before you go! Recommended:  Gravitricity: Key Energy Storage, Or Too Good To Be True? Do you like this article about Gravitricity, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write and publish your article about solar energy? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to  [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
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