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Experts say that by 2025, an estimated 3 billion people will struggle to access safe water daily. While this statistic may sound shocking, there are already 1.1 billion people suffering without access to clean water in the world today. Many countries have turned to desalination practices to meet their freshwater needs to combat this growing issue. This process involves collecting ocean water and converting it to freshwater, but this is expensive and fossil fuel-intensive. Unfortunately, due to the high cost and energy drain, desalination is only accessible to the wealthiest of countries. This highlights the need to solve the water crisis more reasonably.
Today, Office H2O will be discussing a pioneering concept from a small enterprise based out of Massachusetts that seeks to offer another solution. This concept aims to bring desalination – and affordable water – to the developing world by combining wind turbines with desalination plants. Using this process, water can be generated at half the cost of desalination alone while reducing the dependency on fossil fuels. In this way, the world’s water crisis may be solved through the wind.
The Impact of Wind-Powered Desalination Technology
Australia has tested the concept of wind-powered desalination technology on a massive scale in recent years. It has done this by linking large wind farms to desalination units. A plant was developed in Perth powered by 48 wind turbines. It can generate as much as 40 million gallons of drinking water daily. Australia has also set up a similar operation in Sydney, where 63 wind turbines provide energy for the desalination process.
Another project that is showing promise is organized by Wind4Water, a consortium of wind developers. This project is the first to create a pre-engineered and modular facility that can be easily deployed around the developing world. The project’s first plant is currently underway in Cape Verde off the coast of Africa. Cape Verde has one of the lowest groundwater levels on the entire continent, contributing to low food security and water scarcity. The island imports more than 80% of its food supply.
So why does wind-powered desalination technology show so much promise? For one, there are distinct economic advantages to using wind to solve the world’s water crisis. While such benefits will be project-specific based on geographic location, innovations in wind turbines designed for low wind speed operations help power the desalination process. This allows for reliable energy production at wind speeds as low as 3 or 4 m/s.
The Challenges of Wind-Powered Desalination Technology
As promising as wind-powered desalination technology is proving to be in combating the water crisis, there are some challenges to such technology that you should know about. For one, there are obstacles to the deployment of process-integrated desalination plants. These obstacles can largely be attributed to remaining doubts about process integration within the desalination community. Much of this doubt is grounded in the questioning of whether or not desalination systems – irrespective of technology – may be adequately equipped to be powered through wind-powered systems.
According to Leon Awerbuch, director of the International Desalination Association, “One of the unavoidable challenges of coupling wind power – or solar power for that matter – is the intermittent nature of energy production. Usually, desalination plants like to be operated with base-loaded power, which allows for continuous operation.”
Another challenge that wind-powered desalination technology faces is the concern that the water industry has over the idea of shutting desalination systems on and off. For this reason, conventional power production, project integration, and the retaining of a backup grid connection have been heavily favored.
However, Markus Forstmeier, vice president of business development of Electrochaea, states that this key conflict can be easily overcome. He observes that: “Some modifications to desalination systems themselves are required if it’s being powered by wind power. These are actually relatively straightforward changes. For instance, the desalination electrical system requires a variable speed drive to accommodate variability in power supply.”
While wind-powered desalination technology certainly still faces its fair share of challenges, the success of the projects described above shows that solving the world’s water crisis with wind is now closer to reality than ever before.
Enjoy Fresh, Clean Water Anytime with Office H2O
When you think about the billions of people without access to safe drinking water, it is an instinct to be grateful for what we enjoy here in the United States. Still, one of the best ways to ensure that your drinking water is safe and clean is by taking proactive steps. One of the most convenient ways to provide access to clean water anytime in your home or office is with Office H2O’s bottleless water systems.
Our bottleless water systems allow you to enjoy convenient access to clean drinking water. Using the latest water filtration and purification technologies, our bottleless systems utilize a multi-stage process that removes particulates like rust and dirt, along with harmful chemicals like lead and chlorine. Beyond that, going bottleless is also one of the best ways to ensure a reduction in the number of carbon emissions entering our atmosphere. There’s no better time to try an Office H2O bottleless water cooler for yourself! We are now offering a free 7-day trial so that you can experience the benefits. Shop our selection today and enjoy easy access to freshwater.