My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Saudi Arabian Solar Desalination and Solar Distillation can compete with Traditional Water

Friday, July 22, 2016

How Saudi Arabian Solar Desalination and Solar Distillation can compete with Traditional Water

Solar Power may be the answer to our Energy Problems in the Distant future. But can it also be a potential solution to our Water Crisis, a problem faced both locally as well as Worldwide?

According to a Report from the International Food Policy Research Institute 50% of the world population will experience water shortages by 2015, based on increasing water usage due to population increases as pointed out in my blog article entitled “United Nations Population Division says 11.2 billion people by 2100 - Why Africa and India Population exploding as Insect Meat is coming”.
From July 3, 2016
Jamaica, albeit blessed with Wood and Water, gets most of its potable water from Catchment areas near to Rivers. There is currently legislation on the books to introduce Rainwater Harvesting Act as a long-term solution to our ongoing Water Crisis as explained in my blog article entitled “How NWC’s Water Conservation in Drought 2016 means Rainwater Harvesting with Digital Meters”.

Such water would be metered using Digital Water Meters, similar to the Digital Smartmeters being proposed by the JPS Co as noted in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co App for Digital smartmeter means paying Electricity Bill via Mobile Money”.

All of this means that the Water Sector in Jamaica may soon open up to Rainwater Harvesting Contractors and Entrepreneurs and moisture Harvesting from moisture farms in the future as predicted in my blog article entitled “How Rainwater Harvesting Bill means Rainwater Net Billing to end NWC's Water monopoly”.

But what about desalination? Is it possible to use solar power to desalinate Water cheaply enough to be competitive with the NWC?

Solar Desalination - Increasing Efficiencies can make it competitive with Traditional Water Supply

Currently a giant Solar park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, is under construction near the city of Dubai in Saudi Arabia as described in the article “To make Fresh Water without warming the planet, countries Eye Solar Power”, published May 12 2016 by Richard Martin, Technology Review.
From July 3, 2016
This plan will produce a paltry 13,200 gallons of drinking water a day for the workers at the Solar Park. But would a larger Solar Desalination plant make water cheap enough to compete with surface and groundwater?

The Government of Saudi Arabia seems to think so as they have plans for a lager Solar desalination plant located at Al Khafji city in 2017. This plant will produce some 16b million gallons of water, enough to supply the local population.

It's being built jointly by Spanish Solar Company Abengoa and State-owned Saudi company Advanced Water Technology and when completed, may actually be the world’s first large scale solar Desalination plant.

According to a World Bank report, solar-powered desalination is expensive, costing as much as three (3) times water produced by water treatment plants that use Utility power. This may be due in part to the size of the solar array needed to generate the electricity needed to power a traditional reverse-osmosis plant to desalinate water.

However, increasing efficiencies in solar panels and the reduction of prices overall means that the US$50 cost to make 1000 gallons of water may fall to half that level by 2050. The plant expects to benefit initially form subsidies to keep the price down, but that may not be necessary.

Solar Desalination vs Solar Distillation - Concentrated Heat can desalinate Water more efficiently

When one thinks of solar desalination, one thinks of a solar power plant used to power a solar desalinator that use reverse osmosis to extract water from salt water as described in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co uses Aqua Blue-C100 freshwater generator to Desalinate Water for Rockfort Power Station”.

But it does have to be done that way. Instead of solar panels, they can use large solar concentrators to heat the water and flash it to steam then condense the steam to water, without the need for osmosis as described in my blog article entitled “BrightSource Energy Plant Concentrated Solar Rays Killing Birds - Pheromone Traps for Insects a Desert Feast to Keep the Birds Safe”.

This is effectively a large scale Solar Desalinator as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”.

Any volatile chemicals that survive the flashing process can be removed by the addition of chemicals in settling tanks, the use of cyclones to separate them via centrifugation as well as Activated Charcoal Filters and even ozone to purify the water further.

Then the byproducts, mostly magnesium, manganese and calcium salts dissolved in the seawater left over from the solar desalination can be sold as VAP (Value Added Products) making the entire process not only Carbon Neutral but also sustainable.

Solar Desalination is economically feasable. But instead of using Solar Panels to power traditional Reverse Osmosis Equiptment, research should be done in making large scale Solar Distillation Plants that heat water to steam and create pure drinkable water.

This may be the route that Entrepreneurs take in Jamaica to produce Potable Water from Seawater to compete in a deregulated Water Sector!

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