Why is desalination of water too expensive?

Why is desalination of water too expensive?

Is water desalination bad for the environment?

The advantages of desalination plants

Experts agree that cities need diverse water supplies, but desalination plants remain controversial. Once again, California is in a drought. The state’s climate is becoming increasingly unstable, oscillating between periods of drought and deluge, which is making the water supply hard to predict.

But desalination is expensive. A thousand gallons of freshwater from a desalination plant costs the average US consumer $2.50 to $5, Pankratz says, compared to $2 for conventional freshwater.

But desalination is expensive. It’s also an energy hog: Desalination plants around the world consume more than 200 million kilowatt-hours each day, with energy costs an estimated 55 percent of plants’ total operation and maintenance costs.

Steam/condensation is quite inexpensive to create from whatever materials may be on hand. If there is access to animal dung and biomass, it is also quite straight forward to make a bio-digester that will supply the fuel/heat input that drives that process. You disqualified solar desalination.

Using conventional energy for desalination is most cost-efficient: $0.2–1.3/m3 ($0.76–4.9/kgal) for desalinated brackish groundwater and $0.2–3.2/m3 ($0.76–12.1/kgal) for desalinated seawater.

Desalination is an intensive process because of the energy required to separate salts and other dissolved solids from water. The energy required to run high-pressure pumps accounts for approximately 25%‒40% of the overall cost of water.

Both desalination processes use a lot more energy than traditional water treatment methods. The increased energy demand means that desalination is more expensive than traditional water treatment methods. This means some poorer countries that would benefit from desalination cannot afford it.

Desalinated water typically costs about $2,000 an acre foot — roughly the amount of water a family of five uses in a year. The cost is about double that of water obtained from building a new reservoir or recycling wastewater, according to a 2013 study from the state Department of Water Resources.

Because desalination requires a lot of energy the plants are also very expensive to maintain. Energy is reported to be the largest single expense for desalination plants, accounting for as much as half of the costs to make drinking water from the sea viable.

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