Plans have been announced to build a commercial solar-powered water desalination plant in the Panoche Water and Drainage District in California’s Central Valley.
The plant, being built by HydroRevolution, a subsidiary of the independent water producer WaterFX, will provide a highly sustainable water source to local water districts by recycling salt impaired water into fresh water.
The new plant will be built on 35 acres of land currently being farmed with salt-tolerant crops, with the potential to grow to a 70-acre site. The land that will house the solar desalination facility is just a small fraction of the total 6,000 acres currently being used to manage and reuse irrigation drainage water for the Panoche Water District and other participating water districts.
The desalination plant will reportedly be able to provide up to 5,000 acre-feet of fresh water per year- enough water for 10,000 homes or 2,000 acres of cropland.
The system, utilizing WaterFX’s Aqua4 technology, is described as a concentrated solar still which uses large solar arrays to capture solar thermal energy from the sun. The sun heats mineral oil, which then flows to the Multi-effect Distillation system (MED) that evaporates freshwater from the source water. Over 90% of the freshwater is recovered during this process, while the briny remainder can be further treated to produce minerals and salts as useable solid co-products.
Panoche Water and Drainage District officials and WaterFX representatives are eager to see the possibilities for sustainable and consistent freshwater in the Central Valley grow through the construction of the HydroRevolution plant, and hope that this project is a first step in revolutionizing the way the state of California uses and sources water.