Mobile Solar Powered Unit Cleans Water
Solutions For Food-Water-Energy Demand Supply Challenges
Hydrosphere, Lithosphere and Atmosphere - the three intrinsically connected parts of our ecosystem translate into the three essential securities of human existence - water, food and energy. Water is an input for producing agricultural goods in the fields and along the entire agro-food supply chain. Energy is required to produce and distribute water and food: to pump water from groundwater or surface water sources, to power tractors and irrigation machinery, and to process and transport agricultural goods. According to UN Water, agriculture - the predominant land based economic activity, is currently the largest user of water at the global level, accounting for 70% of total withdrawal. The food production and supply chain accounts for about 30% of total global energy consumption. Irrigated lands have higher productivity. 17% of the world's cropland that is irrigated produces 40% of the world's food; as a result countries around the globe are expanding land coverage under artificial irrigation. With surface water becoming increasingly scarce due to greater run offs - a direct effect of global warming, extraction of ground water is expected to become increasingly energy intensive as water tables fall due to overuse and insufficient recharge.
The Crisis and the Sectoral Nexus Solution
Governments and economies have traditionally looked at these sectors severally - in silos, for their utilization, management and policy making. However, with serious demand challenges facing the human population in the coming decades, the concept of looking at these 'in nexus' is being considered as the only possible solution to sustainable development and natural resource related conflict resolution. World Population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 from the current 7.3 billion (33% increase). Our collective demands for basic services and growing desires for higher living standards will strain these resources many folds. Global demand for energy will nearly double; while water and food demands are set to increase by 55% and 60% respectively.
Improved water, energy and food security on a global level can be achieved through this nexus approach — that integrates management and governance across sectors and scales. This approach will also support the transition to a Green Economy, which aims primarily at resource use efficiency and greater policy coherence.
World Water and Solar Technologies
WorldWater and Solar Technologies (WWST) is one such pioneering endeavor that aims at developing robust, customized, reliable and replicable solutions to water-food-energy crisis globally by designing and building integrated solar and water stand-alone platforms. WWST works with stakeholders to provide solutions in water purification and power generation across a variety of applications and industries like Agriculture, Aid and Development, Commercial and Water Agencies, Defense and Security, Disaster Response and Emergency Preparedness and Hospitality and Tourism in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Middle East, besides the US. The company's electronic control devices enable it to drive very large pumps and motors for irrigation of hundreds of acres or to supply purified water from stand-alone portable systems for drinking water for thousands of people daily - all from solar power alone. The company holds five U.S. patents for its technology to directly drive large pumps upto 600 horsepower (Cars that approach 600 horsepower will typically go between 190 - 225 mph!!) and systems to work in a variety of power configurations (off-grid or grid connected) and incorporate alternate power and water sources (batteries, generators and water storage).
Product Line of WWST
Miniature deployable Assistance System (MiDAS™) is an affordable, self contained modular hybrid powered system providing portable water purification, communications and situational awareness capabilities. It provides services to small military teams or local responders in support of humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions in remote areas. MiDAS™ components can be used separately or as part of a system-of-systems designed to be deployed quickly to austere environments where essential services are not immediately available.
Solar Hybrid Expeditionary Power and Purification System (SHEPS™) is a solar hybrid powered, stand-alone and easy to use water pump, purifier and desalinator, as well as power generator build into rugged, rolling man portable cases.
Mobile Maxpure™ is a fully integrated, turnkey solar solution designed to pump, filter, purify and desalinate water, as well as provide auxiliary power and communications. While Mobile MaxPower™ is the mobile, off-grid auxiliary power solution for farming and remote operations. These platforms do not require a connection to the electric grid nor a supply of diesel fuel.
PEAK™ (Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit) is a tested, self-contained kit with onsite power, water purification and satellite communications capabilities built in to an easy to transport ISU-60, a container designed specifically for helicopter usage.
Following are some of the cutting edge solutions that WWST has devised to counter local food-water-energy problems in different parts of the world.
Drinking water Solutions in Iraq and Sudan
Potable water is Iraq's most precious and scarce resource. In Fallujah district in the western Iraqi Al Anbar province, one of the epicenters of fighting between the United States military, together with Iraqi Government forces and Sunni insurgents, most people get drinking water from wells or directly from the Euphrates river. Water borne diseases are a major problem for the Public Health Department in this district and many other adjoining ones. The US Military Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) identified the WorldWater solar powered water purification system, or Mobile MaxPure, as the preferred solution for clean water and power. There are currently 37 Mobile MaxPure systems operating in Iraq of the 60 installed globally. After nearly three years of deployment, there have been no reported system failures and there have been no reported negative health effects.
A similar installation in South Darfur, Sudan had an immediate positive impact for the 150,000 internal refugees who were forced out of their homes as a result of the six year long civil war and now living in Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) set up by Humanitarian International Service Group.
Agriculture Solutions In Egypt and Philippines
WWST and its Egyptian partner, KarmSolar have embarked on a major solar irrigation program in Egypt, converting large diesel pumps to equivalent solar systems. The first successful pilot project was commissioned in May 2013. It is expected to trigger a demand for 85 additional similar irrigation projects covering more than 6000 acres of arable land.
WWST worked with the Department of Irrigation, Philippines to install 50 small irrigation systems throughout the island. Some of them had an additional drinking water pumping system also.
WWST has designed and built the world’s largest airport solar installation at Denver International Airport in Colorado (2 MW), Valley Center Municipal Water District in California (1.1 MW), Cerra Coso College in California (2 MW) and Atlantic County Utilities Authority in New Jersey (500 kW). WWST's proprietary VariMax™ solar technology decreases system budgets, increases system reliability and drives overall efficiency for commercial applications and water agencies.
Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief
WorldWater stand alone systems were deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and earthquake in Japan. WWST also worked with United Water during their earthquake relief operation in Haiti. The systems provided relief in the form of clean drinking water and reliable power.
US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan
WWST has been contracted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to create and build water purification, desalination and communication systems.
The Road Ahead
WWST's solutions are undeniably path breaking and the world needs more of them. However, the implementation is limited in pockets or as pilots. In order that these scale up to become proven and widely implemented energy-water strategic solutions, WWST would need to look at engagement both at policy and grassroots levels. In most developing countries, power generation is a government monopoly and brings along serious bureaucratic hurdles, which can potentially threat or thwart WWST’s growth in such economies. Policy/regulatory changes, however small/in phases should be part of WWST's deals. Similarly, engagement of the community is quite vital to the success of such solutions. Involving the community from the beginning will help WWST understand community needs/preferences, local conditions/resources and also make them accountable for its judicious use and maintenance, thereby ensuring longetivity of the service. Engagement with a community based social enterprise would be a viable solution to distribute the burden of initial capital, rather than implementation delays on account of waiting for government subsidy or a donor.
Another issue that would need a close watch is sustainable extraction of groundwater. It is understood that the amount of freshwater held as groundwater is more than 100 times the amount collected in rivers and lakes. Groundwater, accumulated over millions of years in aquifers get replenished slowly by rainfall, with an average recharge rate that ranges from 0.1% to 3% per year. Pumping of a single water source might not have much of an effect on groundwater flow system but many simultaneously can have regionally significant effect on lowering ground water table, particularly in those regions where precipitation is low. Also, earth materials vary widely in their ability to transmit and store ground water, and hence a single universal solution might not be applicable.