Water Online

JUL 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

Issue link: https://wateronline.epubxp.com/i/838536

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Page 25 of 33

the state to analyze using solar and wind to desal brackish groundwater on state-owned lands. The study, conducted by the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin, found many areas had brackish aquifers and wind and/or solar potential. From the 1,445 sites studied, 193 were technically feasible as well as economically — i.e., the estimated cost of water produced by desal was not higher than the local water price. Further, the study's authors conceded that many more sites could potentially be viable if weighed against future water scarcity under climate models, which were not used here. And, if the price of solar continues to drop — as it is expected to — more sites could become feasible. Another interesting component of the study found that many oil and gas operators are located near the state-owned sites in the study, and those operators typically pay much higher prices than wholesale water prices. Desal plants potentially could sell water to the companies at a lower price, creating a new revenue stream associated with these sites. The next step in the process is to start piloting one or more of the identified sites and begin developing renewable- powered desal. Drought-ridden regions and states have to think creatively about how to support growing populations in areas with less available water. Conservation must always be the first step, but innovative water supply technologies are also part of the solution. Desal is not a new process, but it is an energy — and water —hog. If we thoughtfully think through the integrated approach of low-water energy and water supply, we can work for a sustainable future. n wateronline.com n Water Innovations 23 DESALINATION Kate Zerrenner leads the Environmental Defense Fund's Texas and national energy-water nexus efforts, as well as develops and imple- ments strategies to promote energy and water efficiency in Texas. While breaking down financial, regulatory, and behavioral barriers, Kate works to advance clean energy options that reduce climate change impacts, water intensity, and air pollution. About The Author Solar power could be crucial to desalination's future.

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