04 January 2008

Is Desalination Affordable?

The answer to that question depends upon what you can afford. EcoWorld has an interesting article on the question of affordable desalination. They even provide an online spreadsheet so everyone can crunch the numbers.

Different types of desalination entail different costs. Solar desalination, which is used for the Ecoworld calculations above, is one set of approaches. This online desalination reference discusses different desalination projects in California as of the 1990s.

Some relatively affluent countries, such as Australia and Israel, are forced to include desalination as part of an overall water strategy. Many Persian Gulf nations also utilise desalination.

Desalination by any method is expensive--due to energy costs. Nano-filters may eventually slash the costs by 75% or more. As photovoltaic costs come down, combining nano-filters with PV electric pumps will allow arid coastal regions in the mid to low latitudes more affordable desalinated fresh water. Even without improved electric storage, daytime-only production can be ample. If improved storage is available, 24 hour production should reduce overall costs eventually.

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