Implementation of brackish groundwater desalination using wind-generated electricity: A case study of the energy-water nexus in Texas

Mary E. Clayton, Ashlynn S. Stillwell, Michael E. Webber

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

Growing populations and periodic drought conditions have exacerbated water stress in many areas worldwide. In response, some municipalities have considered desalination of saline water as a freshwater supply. Unfortunately, desalination requires a sizeable energy investment. However, renewable energy technologies can be paired with desalination to mitigate concern over the environmental impacts of increased energy use. At the same time, desalination can be operated in an intermittent way to match the variable availability of renewable resources. Integrating wind power and brackish groundwater desalination generates a high-value product (drinking water) from low-value resources (saline water and wind power without storage). This paper presents a geographically-resolved performance and economic method that estimates the energy requirements and profitability of an integrated wind-powered reverse osmosis facility treating brackish groundwater. It is based on a model that incorporates prevailing natural and market conditions such as average wind speeds, total dissolved solids content, brackish well depth, desalination treatment capacity, capital and operation costs of wind and desalination facilities, brine disposal costs, and electricity and water prices into its calculation. The model is illustrated using conditions in Texas (where there are counties with significant co-location of wind and brackish water resources). Results from this case study indicate that integrating wind turbines and brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) systems is economically favorable in a few municipal locations in West Texas.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages758-778
Number of pages21
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

desalination
electricity
groundwater
energy
water
Groundwater
Electricity
Water
wind power
brackish water
cost
reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis
market conditions
wind turbine
renewable resource
energy use
water stress
profitability
brine

Keywords

  • Brackish groundwater
  • Desalination
  • Economics
  • Policy
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Wind power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

Implementation of brackish groundwater desalination using wind-generated electricity : A case study of the energy-water nexus in Texas. / Clayton, Mary E.; Stillwell, Ashlynn S.; Webber, Michael E.

In: Sustainability (Switzerland), Vol. 6, No. 2, 2014, p. 758-778.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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