New Australian Desalination Plant Will Use 100% Renewable Energy

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Photo via jez.atkinson via Flickr CC

Australia is hurting for water, so a new $780 million desalination facility that is planned for Western Australia, which was approved late last month and will boost water supplies for the area by 20% upon completion in 2011, is a really big deal. However, despite advances in technology, desal plants are also energy intensive. So this plant is getting attention from groups and politicians who want to ensure it is run entirely on renewable energy. Business Green reports WA Conservation Council and other green groups are carefully watching plans for the new desal plant being constructed in WA include it running on 100% renewable energy in the forms of wind, solar and geothermal.

The federal government has already approved the plans, which include the plant needing to meet strict requirements for wildlife preservation, and officials have declared it will run on renewable energy sources to help minimize its emissions.

Construction starts later this year, and it is reasonable to expect such an energy-intensive facility to be built with the future in mind, which means setting it up with the ability to run itself completely on renewable energy sources from the get go, or at least set up to run entirely on renewables within a short period of time. Western Australia's Minister for Water, Graham Jacobs has made a statement that the plant will run on power purchased from renewable energy suppliers, though that's not the same as it powering itself from renewables:

"The Water Corporation intends to purchase all the energy requirements and associated Renewable Energy Certificates for the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant from renewable energy generators," Jacobs said. "Most will come from generators using proven renewable energy technologies. The corporation is also hoping to have a portion of the energy requirements purchased from renewable energy generators using technologies not yet commercially proven at this stage."

While it would be great to see the plant built with its own solar, wind and geothermal power generation supplies, it's encouraging news that at least the power purchased will come from these sources. However, vigilance from green groups is still needed. Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said "The previous state government fudged the figures on the Kwinana desalination plant, saying it was carbon neutral, and powered by renewable energy when that was not the case. As the Water Corporation's annual report shows, greenhouse gas emissions associated with Perth's water use have increased dramatically since this first plant was brought online." The group doesn't want to see the same thing happen with this new plant.

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