Solar Plant Turns Ocean Water Into Drinking Water for 35,000 People a Day in Kenya

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People living in rich and developed countries are taking access to potable water for granted. They are not worried if they run out of the water tomorrow, as people use gallons of water in the bathroom, for washing cars, or spraying it needlessly over their lawns.

Unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization, over 2.2 billion people struggle every day to find freshwater around the world. This huge problem occurs especially in the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa.

Even though two-thirds of the planet Earth is covered in water, some places deal with drought and people aren’t able to find drinkable water. But, over 96 percent of whole water on Earth is saltwater, which is impossible to drink or be used in the households for any manner.

However, there might be hope. The GivePower Foundation has established a solution to this ongoing difficulty. In Kenya, the NGO has started operating a solar-powered desalination plant since August 2018. It is located in a small fishing community of Kiunga, on Kenya’s east coast along the Indian Ocean. The Solar Water Farm processes saltwater into drinkable water, which is then available for over 35,000 people each day.

In the beginning, GivePower started as a nonprofit subsidiary of SolarCity. SolarCity was co-founded by Elon Musk in 2006 and it represents a solar-panel company. In 2016, SolarCity incorporated with Tesla, and that made GivePower become an independent organization.

To transform approximately 75,000 liters (20,000 gallons) of salt water or brackish water into drinkable water, the NGO uses desalination systems integrated into 20-foot shipping containers. For the production of energy, the containers are fitted with solar panels that can produce 50 kilowatts of energy. They are stored by Tesla batteries and two water pumps.

The lives of people in Kiungua were improved dramatically. Its 3,500 villagers are now having usable and drinkable water. Over the past five years, the nation of Africa struggled with severe drought, which leads to minimum agricultural production, and malnutrition in Kenyan society.

GivePower expects that this installation will provide 20 years of access to clean water. This solution costs $20 per person. People of Kiungua now have a more healthy life, and it is not only better for them, as it will increase local economies.

Residents of this region had to organize their work around acquiring accessible water before the installation of the plant. They traveled every day for over an hour to carry freshwater for their families and themselves.

The president of GivePower, Hayes Barnard, said:

 “It was a really dire situation for this community … Children walking around the community with wounds [and] lesions on their body from washing clothes in saltwater.”

Living in such conditions without clean water made cooking, washing, drinking, or bathing almost impossible and led to many health problems. Deadly diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and other waterborne illnesses started spreading and poisoned local residents.

Bernard hopes that this project will lead to a solution and improve the lives of 844 million people at risk around the globe who lack access to clean water. Especially, they aspire to help those 300,000 children who are vulnerable and die due to diseases.

European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) developed a study that says that the world may have to deal with the danger of so-called “water wars” – multifaceted conflicts because of clean water deficiency. The problem became real as a result of global warming and overflow of population, as well as the overlapping social cause—the inequitable global distribution, and ownership, of resources.

According to Bernard, GivePower’s solar-powered energy desalination project is the best solution for this severe crisis. The NGO supplied medical clinics, villages, and schools in 17 countries with more than 2,650 650 solar-powered energy systems. Now they are aiming more locations where they are needed.

Barnard added:

“Humanity needs to take swift action to address the increasingly severe global water crisis that faces the developing world.

With our background in off-grid clean energy, GivePower can immediately help by deploying solar water farm solutions to save lives in areas throughout the world that suffer from prolonged water scarcity.”

Sources:

www.who.int

www.usgs.gov

www.interestingengineering.com

www.reliefweb.int

www.globenewswire.com

www.businessinsider.in

www.ec.europa.eu

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