Support the use of Renewable Energy (RE) Desalination technology.
Renewable energy technologies could play a major role in tackling global water shortages, according to a report published by wave energy developer Aquamarine Power. The report indicates that sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar and marine power could provide a viable alternative to conventionally powered desalination methods in areas where natural ground water resources are depleted.
Aquamarine Power published the report in association with the ProDes project, a consortium of 14 European organisations, which aims to support the use of Renewable Energy (RE) Desalination technology, particularly for off-grid communities with water scarcity and energy infrastructure challenges. The ProDes project is funded by the Intelligent Energy programme of the European Commission.
According to research by the United Nations, the average person only drinks 2 to 4 litres daily but it takes around 2000 to 5000 litres of water to produce one person’s daily food requirements. In areas of high population growth, increased demand for fresh water is depleting natural ground water supplies faster than they can be replenished. Aquamarine Power’s report explains that in order to meet water demand, it will be necessary to implement desalination systems now before natural sources are drained completely.
Desalination systems are inherently energy intensive, the report says, and therefore it will be necessary to power desalination systems with clean energy to maintain the prospect of future, low carbon economies.
For example, desalination plant powered by renewable energy sources have been widely demonstrated in Australia, at a price of AUD$1.25 (£0.72) per 1,000 litres of desalinated water produced, cost-competitive with a price of AUD $0.80 through standard desalination methods.
Aquamarine Power’s Oyster wave energy technology has been designed to harness the abundant natural energy found in nearshore waves and convert it into sustainable zero-emission electricity. Oyster has the potential to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to standard desalination methods in countries such as South Africa and Australia which have particularly powerful wave climates. Recent measurements estimate South Africa’s annual wave power density to be 17kW/m of wave front, the report says, making wave power desalination in water scarce coastal locations “highly feasible”.