US solar desalination demonstration project starts in 2012

A pilot demonstration of a solar-power desalination system is be deployed in spring 2012 at the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

This will be part of the bureau’s solar desalination research to develop an alternative water source for rural and remote water users within the Navajo Nation, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in north-eastern Arizona.

Renewable energy development will play a key role in improving and expanding desalination water projects throughout the US, according to participants in the 56th Annual New Mexico Water Conference on 13‑14 December 2011.

The conference, coordinated by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute at New Mexico State University and the Bureau of Reclamation, brought desalination experts from around the world together in Alamogordo to discuss ways to advance desalination projects.

Experts representing Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia presented some of their successful projects and demonstrated, says a Bureau of Reclamation release, why Europe and Asia are currently considered the global leaders in this technology.

Dr Bekele Debele, from the Middle East & North Africa region of the World Bank, said that desalination was being looked at as an emerging solution to the region’s growing water gap.

“Between 1950 and 2000, per-capita renewable water resources declined by more than 75%,” Debele said. Saudi Arabia, the world’s leader in desalination, was looking to convert all of its seawater desalination plants to renewable energy by 2019, he said.

Following the presentations, breakout groups met to develop research projects along with potential collaboration opportunities. At the final plenary session, the proposed projects were presented and further discussed.

“We want these results to be widely disseminated,” said Kevin Price, advanced water treatment research coordinator for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We want to get the word out that these are great ideas so others will want to join in.”

The conference also included tours of the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility.