Wednesday, July 15, 2009

$780 Million Desalination Plant To Be Run Entirely On Renewable Energy

Photo via Getty Images

In the next blog or so, I will be looking at using desalination of ocean waters to help remove CO2 from the atmosphere; and, I thought I would segue into the next couple of blogs with this.

Australia is in the worst drought in 117 years. The Murray-Darling river area has been in the drought’s grip for the last ten years. This affects the local farmers which affects Australia’s economy which affects the global food market. It’s the ripple effect; and, farmers have been told that they will have to continue preparing for the worst.

The solution it would appear, on the surface anyway, is a new $780 million desalination facility that is planned for Western Australia. This plant was approved in late June and will boost water supplies in the area by 20% upon completion in 2011.

Photo via jez.atkinson

The Australian government has approved the plans based on the plant meeting strict requirements for wildlife preservation and its commitment to run entirely on renewable energy sources to help reduce its emissions.

Business Green reports WA (Western Australia) Conservation Council and other green groups are carefully watching to make sure the plans for the new plant ensure that it runs on 100% renewable energy in the forms of wind, solar and geothermal.

Western Australia's Minister for Water, Graham Jacobs has made a statement that the plant will run on power purchased from renewable energy suppliers. While this all sounds environmentally friendly, it’s not the same as it powering itself from renewables:

“The Water Corporation intends to purchase all the energy requirements and associated Renewable Energy Certificates for the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant from renewable energy generators,” Jacobs said. “Most will come from generators using proven renewable energy technologies. The corporation is also hoping to have a portion of the energy requirements purchased from renewable energy generators using technologies not yet commercially proven at this stage.”

Construction begins later this year; and, there are many locals and environmentalists that are against the desalination plant. (See video below)

While it would be great to see the plant built with its own solar, wind and geothermal power generation supplies, it's encouraging news that the power purchased will come from these sources. However, vigilance from green groups is still needed.

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said, “The previous state government fudged the figures on the Kwinana desalination plant, saying it was carbon neutral, and powered by renewable energy when that was not the case. As the Water Corporation’s annual report shows, greenhouse gas emissions associated with Perth’s water use have increased dramatically since this first plant was brought online.”

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