Mix salt water with fresh water and there you have it: instant carbon-neutral energy. The process is called osmotic power, and a company called Statkraft has just opened the world’s first osmotic power plant in Norway.
For now the plant has a limited production capacity and will focus mainly on testing and developing the technology for commercial application. When osmotic power does go commercial, it could make a significant contribution to a sustainable, carbon neutral energy future. The company estimates that the global potential of osmotic power is equivalent to half of the European Union’s current energy production.
Osmotic Power, Desalination and Wastewater
The company’s estimate of the global potential for osmotic power may be somewhat modest. Aside from the obvious mixing of seawater with river water and other natural freshwater sources, osmotic power can also tap the latent power in other water sources, such as desalination plants and wastewater treatment plants.
Image: dsearls on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.