Concentrating Solar Power For Seawater Desalination

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The general perception of “solar desalination” today comprises only small scale technologies for decentralized water supply in remote places, which may be quite important for the development of rural areas, but do not address the increasing water deficits of the quickly growing urban centers of demand. Conventional large scale desalination is perceived as expensive, energy consuming and limited to rich countries like those of the Arabian Gulf, especially in view of the quickly escalating cost of fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal. The environmental impacts of large scale desalination due to airborne emissions of pollutants from energy consumption and to the discharge of brine and chemical additives to the sea are increasingly considered as critical. For those reasons, most contemporary strategies against a “Global Water Crisis” consider seawater desalination only as a marginal element of supply. The focus of most recommendations lies on more efficient use of water, better accountability, re-use of waste water, enhanced distribution and advanced irrigation systems. To this adds the recommendation to reduce agriculture and rather import food from other places. On the other hand, most sources that do recommend seawater desalination as part of a solution to the water crisis usually propose nuclear fission and fusion as indispensable option.


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