US bill seeks major desalination research expansion
US Senate hearings began on 10 March 2009 into a bill on the relationship between energy and water which could have wide implications for desalination research, both in the US and internationally.
Up front, the bill says that the study should include a lifecycle assessment of the quantity of water withdrawn and consumed in the production of transportation fuels or electricity; then to evaluate the ratio that the quantity of water withdrawn/consumed bears to the total distance traveled as a result of the consumption of fuel or electricity.
However, more importantly for desalination, the bill seeks to authorize funds to enable the Secretary of the Interior to operate and manage the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Otero County, New Mexico, as a state-of-the-art desalination research center. The center would develop new water and energy technologies with widespread applicability; and create new supplies of usable water for municipal, agricultural, industrial or environmental purposes.
As a priority, says the bill, renewable energy technologies should be developed for integration with desalination technologies:
In addition, the bill wants:
Finally, the bill seeks to authorize the EPA to collect information on energy consumption in various sectors of the economy that are associated with the acquisition, treatment, or delivery of water. This would include water used for agricultural, municipal, industrial and domestic purposes
If the bill is passed the Secretary of Energy would have 90 days to develop an ''Energy-Water Research and Development Roadmap to define the future research, development, demonstration and commercialization efforts that are required to address emerging water-related challenges to future, cost-effective, reliable and sustainable energy generation and production".