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Why don’t hot countries use solar powered desalination plants?

Why don’t countries like Australia and Egypt use solar powered desalination plants and solar powered pumping stations to irrigate and green the deserts. Surely solar powered desalination plants could be part of the energy answer in the future? What do your scientists think?
Lynne Foster from Essex (Age 45-54)

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6 Responses

  1. My opinion is that as yet the technology is too expensive and inefficient to justify the small ouputs. Just think of the size of solar panel you need just to keep a 12V battery charged.

  2. Actually they do and more research is going on all the time, a large focused light plant was installed in Seville spain last year which generates 11MW (Megawatts) and an enormouse solar tower is planned for outside of Melbourne in Australia, it will be 200MW and supply enough electricity for 100,000 homes.
    No greenhouse gasses, no polution just almost free energy.

  3. My parents just got back from Dubai and Abu Dabi and said that it seemed like the whole UAE (United Arab Emirates) ran on desalinized water…and the growth rate there is explosive! It is definitely possible…
    WHERE THERE IS A WILL…the west can learn some things from the Middle East again…

  4. This is a question I deeply feel indebted to! One third of the world population is on a daily struggle to secure barely the water needed to survive! And, moreover, at the same time industrial nations are facing surging energy prices and cumbersome trade situations regarding the availability of gas and oil.

    Being an engineer, I wonder why the synthesis of solutions to both problems is not being made an issue of top most priority. The US once had a president having set water desalination a topic of government attention: J.F. Kennedy

    Is it a silly idea to irrigate large desert areas to enhance world nutrition and at the same being able to cater to fuel consumption? A fraction of what the Bush administration has spent on fighting Saddam and lurking on weapons that have never existed would have greatly contributed to this question.

  5. Hi, they will, but it´s a matter of cost. untill now, renewable energies are more expensive … as long as the costs of climate change and pollution aren´t taken into account and as long as gas coal and oil are so cheap. but sure it will change 🙂

    technically :
    “It (andasol I) has been estimated to generate 178 000 MWh of renewable electricity per year”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andasol_1_solar_power_station

    “A (desalination) plant similar to Perth’s, even with energy recovery capability, will consume about 24 megawatts of electricity to produce about 45 gigalitres of water per year. This represents about 185,000 megawatt hours of energy per year.”
    http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/publications/emerging/desal/index.html

  6. I think he’s thinking of the fact you can have several window air conditioners, they can be installed individually at any time, and any handy individual could install their own. Not necessarily the best analogy, but there you have it.

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