It could offer some relief to the West’s long-running water wars.
The giant solar receiver installed on a wheat field here in California’s agricultural heartland slowly rotates to track the sun and capture its energy. The 377-foot array, however, does not generate electricity but instead creates heat used to desalinate water.
It is part of a project developed by a San Francisco area start-up called WaterFX that is tapping an abundant, if contaminated, resource in this parched region: the billions of gallons of water that lie just below the surface.
Financed by the Panoche Water District with state funds, the $1 million solar thermal desalinization plant is removing impurities from drainage water at half the cost of traditional desalinization, according to Aaron Mandell, a founder of WaterFX.
If the technology proves commercially viable — a larger plant is to be built this year — it could offer some relief to the West’s long-running water wars.
WaterFX faces a daunting and urgent task. The water is tainted with toxic levels of salt, selenium and other heavy metals that wash down from the nearby Panoche foothills, and is so polluted that it must be constantly drained to keep it from poisoning crops.
And with California facing a record-breaking drought, the spigot has gone dry for farmers that depend on long-term contracts with the federal government’s Central Valley Project to deliver cheap water from the north. Irrigation costs are expected to double or triple as growers are forced to buy water on the spot market.
“Food prices are going to go up, absolutely,” said Dennis Falaschi, manager of the Panoche Water District, as he drove his pickup truck past bone-dry fields of almond trees and grapevines on an unseasonably warm day recently.
WaterFX’s project exploits two things the Central Valley possesses in abundance — fallow land and sunshine — to cut desalinization costs.
The Latest on: Solar thermal desalinization
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The Latest on: Solar thermal desalinization
- Solar Tower Jülichon March 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm
In doing so, the researchers are aiming to make solar thermal power plants more efficient and thus ... fuels and the use of solar heat for industrial processes such as the desalination of seawater.
- DOE Awards $21M in Grants to Cut Costs of Solar Thermal Desalinationon March 17, 2020 at 11:00 am
Policy & regulation are aligning with renewables cost declines to make projects more profitable and portfolios more sustainable. Batteries are helping to optimize the power grid and opening up new ...
- Water crisis in South Africa: Solution within the government’s handon March 17, 2020 at 2:05 am
In the context of current global climate change issues fossil fuels supported desalination process is not a viable option: – nether solar pv can produce low cost fresh water through ... high ...
- Team develops thin solar heating film for efficient thermal energy harvestingon March 13, 2020 at 11:51 am
solar seawater desalination, solar thermal energy harvesting and direct conversion of heat to electricity (otherwise known as thermophotovoltaics), among other use cases.
- Graphene solar heating film offers new opportunity for efficient thermal energy harvestingon March 13, 2020 at 7:11 am
The graphene metamaterial film has great potential for use in solar thermal energy harvesting and conversion, thermophotovoltaics (directly converting heat to electricity), solar seawater desalination ...
- Structured graphene metamaterial selective absorbers for high efficiency and omnidirectional solar thermal energy conversionon March 12, 2020 at 5:00 pm
An ideal solar-thermal absorber requires efficient selective absorption with a tunable bandwidth, excellent thermal conductivity and stability, and a simple structure for effective solar thermal ...
- World's largest desalination project in UAE secures $758mln green loanon March 11, 2020 at 10:33 pm
What makes the project sustainable is that it includes a 68-megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV ... Moreover, the new plant is expected to substitute two local thermal desalination plants of ...
- World's largest desalination project in UAE secures $758mln green loanon March 11, 2020 at 10:17 pm
What makes the project sustainable is that it includes a 68-megawatt peak (MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to complement the energy supply ... Moreover, the new plant is expected to substitute two ...
- Sunny-Side Up - The benefits of solar thermal technologyon March 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm
It's part of a project encouraging energy-hungry industrial enterprises to make the switch to solar thermal power. Desalination makes fresh water available for millions of people, but it has ...
- Abu Dhabi turns to solar for future power needson March 8, 2020 at 7:21 am
When Abu Dhabi launched the world’s cheapest solar plant last year, it was the third time in two years that the UAE ... been secured for the construction of what is expected to be the world’s largest ...
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