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Saving the salt of the earth - Water shortage has windy solution

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Beyond Zero Emissions :Mon, 2007-06-18 07:50 — Matthew Wright

Victoria's water shortage crisis can be solved with the state-wide transition of electricity generation to zero emission renewable energy. Wind power fully backed up by gas would use 91 per cent less water than the coal-fired power generators, and would be much more cost effective in an era of rising water and carbon costs.

Australia's average national rainfall has dropped by over 50mm along the Eastern sea-board since pre-industrial times. This is a direct consequence of the phenomenal levels of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere from sources such as coal-fired power generators and car use. National temperature's have increased by 0.83C in the same time, causing widespread evaporation and increased severe weather events.

“Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions should be the first criteria for addressing the water crisis, as our addiction to coal and oil has caused this disastrous problem,” said Matthew Wright, lead spokesman for Beyond Zero Emissions. “The Victorian Government has conveniently ignored the cause of our water shortage: climate change induced drought.”

The Victorian Government is currently investigating four options to tackle the state's water shortage. These include:
-An electricity powered desalination plant ($1.5 billion).
-Piping Gippsland drinking water to Melbourne in exchange for recycled water to Latrobe Valley power stations ($2 - $3 billion).
-Piping water from the Goulburn Valley over the Great Dividing Range to Melbourne ($1.5 billion).
-Stormwater recycling ($1 billion to $2 billion).

“None of these proposals makes sense when they do not address the major contributor to the cause of the drought,” said Mr. Wright. “Coal-fired power, which currently accounts for the majority of the state’s power generation, uses a third of Melbourne’s water. A responsible government would consider a rapid transition to zero-emission, zero-water renewable technology to solve the water crisis.”

Wind power is an internationally established form of power generation. The Danish government has announced it aims to generate 75 per cent of its electricity through wind power by 2025. By 2010 Germany will have 30,000 Megawatts (MW) of wind power potential installed into their grid, enough to generate 40 per cent of Australia’s electricity needs. Recently Texan billionaire T. Boone Pickens announced he is going to build 4000 MW wind farm; three of these would provide most of Victoria’s energy needs. In comparison, Victoria’s biggest, dirtiest coal power plant is a tiny 2000MW.

“Wind and solar electricity generation are mature and proven technologies,” said Mr. Wright. “It is pure madness not to consider them given the current water and climate change crisis we have created.”

Victoria is not isolated in its severe water shortage. Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia are all currently on stage 4 and 5 water restrictions. In Queensland, Rio Tinto recently announced they were laying off coal miners due to lack of water needed to power a government owned coal power plant.

Electricity powered desalination, storm water recycling and sewerage recycling are unnecessary, complicated technologies, have substantial ongoing running costs and risk environmental damage. If desalination is considered it should be instigated using RMIT’s zero emission solar desalination plant, which is directly powered by the Sun. A small scale plant is already operating in Maldon Victoria. As with all renewable energy technologies, the State and Federal Governments have been negligent and failed to fund them, whilst funneling $10 billion of subsidies annually to the fossil fuel industry.

“Australian governments need to make climate change their fundamental priority,” said Mr. Wright. “Within the short space of time that climate change has allowed, these governments should take the opportunity to fundamentally restructure the nation's water infrastructure. This will not only address our water crisis, but will begin the creation of truly sustainable, carbon-free future.”

Bracks's $1bn plan for desal operation (doesn't cost 500million running costs)
Victorian water plans may be out soon
Rio Tinto to cut coal jobs as drought bites into power
Solar Thermal Desalination Systems
RMIT Solar Pond solution to reduce evaporation by 70%
RMIT Zero Emissions water desalination a reality.
Water usage coal, nuclear, gas, wind and Solar Photovoltaic

2 Com:

GerryWolff | June 18, 2007

Further information about concentrating solar power (CSP), including desalination using waste heat from power generattion, may be found at:

http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/index.htm

and

http://www.trecers.net/index.html

and

http://www.trec.net.au/

michaelangelica | June 20, 2007

I live on the Central Coast of NSW surrounded by power stations that use salt water to cool the plants.
I have often wondered (with 16% water in the dam) why the power stations can't also desalinate water

I talked to a Guy at a recent conference who worked for a big power Station up north.
I ran the "de-sal at power plant" idea by him and he thought it was a good idea.
Power Stations, as you know, need to keep a base load going.
At night, he said, they need to gradually "step down" their massive generators. CO2 wise, this is not very efficient use of the energy produced by burning the coal. A lot of energy is wasted gradually stepping down the massive generators over a period of hours.
Sometimes they need to expend a lot of energy going to get an extra power station on line to cope with peak demand.
He also said that seawater used for cooling is warmed to 50C anyway, so it is not a lot more to get to 101C.
I suppose it is a matter of economics, perhaps of perception, perhaps of conservative thinking; but the Professor's new technology (below) looks good.
What do you think?

Professor Discovers Better Way To Desalinate Water

Science Daily — Chemical engineer Kamalesh Sirkar, PhD, a distinguished professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and an expert in membrane separation technology, is leading a team of researchers to develop a breakthrough method to desalinate water. Sirkar, who holds more than 20 patents in the field of membrane separation, said that using his technology, engineers will be able to recover water from brines with the highest salt concentrations. The Bureau of Reclamation in the Department of Interior is funding the project.

Kamalesh K. Sirkar, PhD, is a distinguished professor of chemical engineering and the sponsored chair for membrane separations and the director for the Center for Membrane Technologies at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

"Our process will work especially well with brines holding salt concentrations above 5.5 percent," Sirkar said. Currently, 5.5 percent is the highest percentage of salt in brine that can be treated using reverse osmosis.

"We especially like our new process because we can fuel it with low grade, inexpensive waste heat," Sirkar said. "Cheap heat costs less, but can heat brine efficiently."

ScienceDaily: Professor Discovers Better Way To Desalinate Water
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060211134405.htm

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