Using Renewable Energy For Desalination

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Originally published on Lenz Blog.
By Karl-Friedrich Lenz

That’s the name of a website (

I found it over this tweet by Michael Liebreich, who likes the idea.

The website explains real life experience with using solar power for desalination in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

One of the advantages of doing this: Once renewable energy gets to large scale, there will be many time slots where supply exceeds demand. In that case, you either need to shut down valuable capacity or have some source of demand that can scale up in real time.

Desalination fits that requirement. As Michael Liebreich explained in another tweet last December, water is easy to store.

I like the website. They explain in one page the basic economics of their project.

Those are improving because the cost of solar panels and the cost of batteries (which previously accounted for 60% of project costs) are both going down.

I also found it interesting that the don’t pay for inverters. Instead their desalination process runs on direct current.

The advantage of using alternating current is (or was in the 19th Century, when AC won over DC) that it is easier to distribute over long distances. But if you are generating your electricity with solar panels on site, that advantage is not an issue. Getting rid of the inverter cost and running the desalination unit on direct current is the logical thing to do under the circumstances.

Reprinted with permission.

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