A desalination plant can consume as much as 639,000 homes

The current drought, barely mitigated by recent rains, is changing the water consumption pattern in Spain. This desalination plants They are called upon to take on a larger roleWhile the government and other administrations plan to build more factories and expand existing ones. However The economic and ecological cost of these facilities is quite high. and it’s not as simple as turning seawater into fresh drinking water.

For example, Barcelona has the largest desalination plant in Europe.In 2009, the boats built right after the great drought forced the population to supply the population with water-filled boats. Since then its production has been quite small compared to other sources, but now everything is changing and the desalination plant has become an indispensable part.

Two years ago, before the current drought, rivers provided 63% of Barcelona’s drinking water, while wells drawing water from underground aquifers accounted for 34% and desalination of seawater only 3%, according to data provided to the AP agency by the city’s municipal water company. had its reputation. . Currently, instead, desalination currently represents 33% of Barcelona’s drinking waterwells offer 23% and increasingly dry rivers only 19%.

Hypersaline waste from desalination plants

Desalination plants solve the problem of drinking water shortages, but they also create other effects, especially due to their high energy consumption and discharge of excessively salty wastes into the sea.

Discharge of brine from a desalination plant into the sea Luciano Santandreu/Shutterstock


Experts warn Brine (saline rejection concentrate that reaches the sea) deeply damages the marine ecosystem., especially the Posidonia meadows, on which much of life under the sea depends. Brine is not just a salt concentrate, it also carries toxic chemicals from the desalination process at the facility.

The amount of salt water discharged into the sea is not small. On average, For every 0.45 liters of fresh water produced in a desalination plant, approximately 0.55 liters of brine is produced as waste..

Since the island of Lanzarote was the first in Europe to install a seawater desalination plant in 1964, Spain has become the fourth country with the world’s largest desalination capacity. About 800 water treatment plants scattered across the national territory They create a massive influx for human consumption, agriculture and industry.

Energy consumed by a desalination plant

The Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Practices (CREAF) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona recently warned of the effects on energy desalinated water production.

Lanzarote desalination plant good cat / shutter


‚ÄúThis water has, above all, a huge environmental cost. energy consumption to perform the operationAlthough they have fallen a lot since the first installations in the 70s (from around 8kWh/m3 to 2.3kWh/m3 in the most optimized systems), they still consume around 4 kWh/m3 on average today”, Add.

For comparison, a seawater desalination plant with a production of at least 1.5 hm3/day will consume as much energy as 639,000 homes, that is, more than one million people., according to estimates by CREAF researcher Annelies Broekmann. In general, it is assumed that a house consumes an average of 3,847 Kw/h of electricity per year.

There are desalination plants powered by solar panels on the planet, but few large-capacity plants still operate entirely on this system. The start-up of a water treatment plant in Spain now represents, as a general rule, a sharp increase in energy consumption from fossil fuels.

Inside a desalination plant IT


Greenpeace and other environmental organizations acknowledge that in some cases there may be no choice but to resort to desalination to maintain the water supply, but Take lots of precautions before going to these facilities.

Restoring riverbeds that are currently filled with barriers (dams and other works) blocking water flow, reducing recreational use of water for tourism complexes, or redirecting irrigated crops are formulas for nature to help. contribution of a larger flow. Similarly, stopping nitrates from livestock and industrial agriculture from contaminating underground aquifers would make it possible to have more water volumes currently wasted.

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Environmental department contact information: [email protected]

Source: Informacion

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