FRIDAY 13 MARCH, 2009 |
Solar Powered Desalination For South Australia
The future of clean, potable water for Australia generally looks very grim and
desalination plants are being built to cope with increased demand coupled with
the effects of what seems to be an never-ending drought.
A major challenge for desalination plants is electricity consumption - and in
creating that electricity, huge amounts of water are required at the power
generation source. This is an area where solar
can again come to the rescue.
currently under construction by Adelaide based Acquasol Infrastructure Ltd., is
a concentrated solar power desalination plant located outside Port Augusta,
South Australia that will create drinking water for the city of
Acquasol 1 utilises parabolic trough concentrating solar power, combined
cycle gas turbines, multi-effects desalination and solar salt harvesting - what
the company states to be near to a 'closed loop' process.
In multi-effects distillation, sea water is boiled under pressure and then the
vapour is recondensed to produce fresh water. As concentrating solar power can create temperatures of
400 - 1,000+ degrees Celsius, it's well suited to desalination purposes.
Unlike the mains powered Port Stanvac plant near Adelaide that will use the
energy intensive reverse osmosis method and discharge the saline waste product
directly back in the ocean - which has alarmed some environmentalists - the
Acquasol 1 project will direct waste brine from the desalination process into
land-based holding ponds. After evaporation by the sun, a commercially viable
salt product will be all that remains, which can then be sold to create
While historically an expensive way to create fresh water, increasing costs are
making desalination technology more competitive. According to the company,
research carried out for the Western Australian government in 2004 estimated
that desalinated water will become cheaper to source than groundwater in some parts of
that state as early as 2020, with other states perhaps not too far behind.
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