Have You Heard Of Solar Desalination? If Not, You Will Soon

By Ari Phillips, Climate Progress

Solar power turns the sun’s energy into electricity. Desalination removes unwanted minerals from saltwater so it can be used for drinking or agriculture.

These two technologies have typically been employed separately in the effort to live more sustainably and limit dependence on finite resources. Now in California, a company has found a way to merge the two with the aim of providing long-term relief to farmers suffering the impacts of the state’s devastating four-year drought. The implications are far-reaching, as agriculture accounts for 80 percent of water use in California and roughly 70 percent of water use globally. In California alone, there is an estimated one million acre-feet of irrigation drainage that could be treated and reused if solar desalination catches on.

“Conserving or recycling even a small share of this water can make a big difference,” Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and a Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, told ThinkProgress.

WaterFX, a San Francisco-based water producer for agricultural and commercial users, recently announced that its California subsidiary, HydroRevolution, plans to build the state’s first commercial solar desalination plant. To be located in the agriculture-intensive Central Valley, the plant will ultimately generate up to 5,000 acre-feet, or 1.6 billion gallons, of clean water per year — enough water for 10,000 homes or 2,000 acres of cropland. It will be built on 35 acres of land currently used to grow salt-tolerant crops, and will recycle unusable irrigation water from a 7,000-acre drainage area into a new and much-needed source of freshwater for nearby water districts by removing unwanted mineral and salts.

Read full article from Climate Progress

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