Creating Clean Water with Clean Energy in California

In an excellent article, Barbara Lydick examines California’s challenges of water scarcity, purity and recovery with insightful commentary and vision.

Fresno Clean Energy Park concept

After setting the stage by describing California’s declining and brackish water resources, competing valuable water-use industries, and legislative ineffectiveness, Lydick delves into a clean energy solution,

Phase I of the Clean Energy Park would be the construction of a water treatment plant powered by a 140-megawatt concentrated solar power plant backed up by the grid. The plant would be similar to the one in Kimberlina near Bakersfield. This would provide enough electricity to desalinate water for roughly 40,000 acres of farmland, depending on the crops planted.

Following this near-term solution, Lydick then expands the concept in Phase II,

However, it is with Phase II that desalinization becomes truly cost-effective. The addition of two clean, carbon-free, 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plants would provide the power to desalinate enough water for the entire Valley’s irrigation needs at an estimated cost of less than $200 per acre-foot, with additional water available for area municipalities, business and residential use.

Now we’re talking water independence. Moreover, the balance of electricity could be delivered to the Valley for clean energy independence.

… and even the “waste” can be recycled as a valuable resource,

One of the real advantages of the Clean Energy Park is that the downstream waste salts and other materials from the desalinization process will be turned into carbon-negative and carbon-neutral green-building materials. This significantly helps make desalinization economical in two ways: 1) the waste salts are recoverable and will be sold, to be turned into consumer products, and 2) recovery takes the disposal costs of this waste out of the equation.

The article describes many other creative solutions and concepts made possible by the planned Fresno Clean Energy Park and AREVA’s solar power and nuclear power plants. We encourage you to read it and give us your thoughts in the comments.