Desalination of sea water using renewable energy marries two issues

An important article on two of the planet’s major issues called “Egypt to build 21 desalination plants in phase 1 of scheme -sovereign fund” by Aidan Lewis appeared in Reuters this week. A few paragraphs are noted below with a link to the full article at the end of the post.

“CAIRO, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Egypt plans to award deals next year to build 21 water desalination plants in the first $3 billion phase of a programme that will draw on cheap renewable energy, the CEO of the country’s sovereign fund said on Thursday.

Egypt, which recently hosted the COP27 U.N. climate talks and is trying to boost lagging investment in renewables, also aims to start production at a series of proposed green hydrogen projects in 2025-2026, Ayman Soliman told the Reuters NEXT conference.

Egypt depends almost entirely on the Nile for fresh water, and faces rising water scarcity for its population of 104 million. The desalination programme aims to generate 3.3 million cubic metres of water daily in the first phase, and eventually reach 8.8 million cubic metres daily at a cost of $8 billion.

So-called green or clean hydrogen is produced using electrolysers powered by renewable energy to split water from oxygen. It is seen as a potential future power source that could reduce emissions, though to date it is largely limited to experimental projects. Analysts say challenges facing its growth include high costs and energy inputs, as well as safety concerns.”

This fund is set to pump money into two needed concerns – the worsening water crisis and the needed use of renewable energy to power the effort. The global water crisis matches climate change in terms of risk to our planet and has for several years. Climate change actually makes the water crisis worse through evaporation. Duke Energy noted in a report that its projections of water evaporation from its water sources to power the Charlotte metropolitan area will be 11% worse with climate change. When water levels get to low, Duke has to cut power production or use more water from the river sources which exacerbates the water crisis.

Marrying these two crises, we have too much salt water and too little fresh water. Efforts to use the former to replace the latter may start out as more expensive, which is why it has not been used as much before, but has to be part of our equation to help our planet and people. As with other efforts, over time the process will get more cost effective.


20 thoughts on “Desalination of sea water using renewable energy marries two issues

  1. I often asked myself why countries that suffer from too little fresh water don’t use ocean water (like California for example). Only then I learned how expensive and elaborate this is. However, it is one step further and from there maybe better solutions are found.

    • Janis, thanks for sharing this. I agree, we should look at multiple options that meet the needs and supply. Orange County uses repurposed and super-filtrated sewage water for drinking water. Apparently, it works. Keith

      • I don’t think recycled water is as rare as we might think it is. Unfortunately, nay-sayers started to call it “toilet-to-tap” which made everyone a bit queasy at the thought. I read somewhere that Australians are aghast that we use fresh, drinkable water to flush our toilets here in the US. Changing just that practice would save a ton of water.

      • No. Australians also use fresh water to flush. Only in some country areas do they recycle water for drinking and flushing. It is not a popular option but is increasingly looked upon as a solution.

      • Janis, good update. I agree about using gray water (shower water runoff) to flush toilets. Ads can surely deflate progress. Keith

  2. “There had been expressions of interest from more than 200 developers from at least 35 countries for the first phase, Soliman said.” I found this information one of the most encouraging aspects of this article, Keith. Though all these efforts turn out to be more challenging than they appear, the more the merrier. Seems very rational. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    • Thanks Annie. I agree on the more the merrier. One of the best things that happened when the Paris CC Accord was signed was several investors and companies setting up a fund to finance major investments in renewables and technology improvements in support. Keith

  3. When we know better, we must do better. There are big moves to change our agricultural system as well, but like everything else funding and knowledge are the chains that prevent movement. Hopefully, this news will start to open more eyes, ears and funding.

  4. I applaud the Egyptian initiative. We have to stay somewhere and newer technologies won’t always be cheater until they become mainstream. Australia is the driest continent and we still use fresh clean drinking water to flush in most major cities. That is shameful when we gave frequent droughts.

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