Kenya installs the first solar plant to turn ocean water into drinking water as a potential solution to the global water crisis
Katerina Papakyriakopoulou/ Thinking Humanity
About 2.2 billion people in the world do not have access to drinking water services that are managed safely. That occurs on a planet that is 71 percent covered by that essential element for life. What seems like a contradiction, maybe the critical challenge for the future of humanity: How to turn the seawater of the oceans into drinking water. Well, the answer is located in a small town in Kenya, near the border of Somalia.This new solar water treatment plant was developed by the NGO (non-governmental organization) GivePower. The pilot test has already improved the lives of residents of Kiunga, a small town in Kenya, and they seek to reproduce the technology in other parts of Earth. In the end, you’ll find a bonus with figures on global water consumption and the value of using it responsibly.
One in every three people in the world does not have access to drinking water, according to a report published less than two months ago by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The conditions are worse in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why the area was chosen to install the first solar plant system that transforms the Indian Ocean’s saltwater into clean drinking water. It’s been in operation since 2018.
Kiunga is the name of the fishing town where the project is successfully operating. It was funded by the non-profit Givepower. Thanks to its achievements, the organization is planning on replicating the project in other countries such as Haiti and Colombia.
A typical desalination plant consumes high amounts of power, and the process is expensive. It can operate only in areas which have enough facilities to produce and distribute that much energy. The NGO solved those problems by using a technology called “solar water farms,” that involve the installation of solar panels that can produce 50 kilowatts of energy, high-performance Tesla batteries to store it, and two water pumps which operate 24 hours per day.The system can generate drinking water for 35,000 people per day. Plus, according to GivePower, the water quality is better than that of a typical desalination plant. Besides, it does not even have the negative environmental impact the process usually causes as the extraction of salt produces saline residues and pollutants which are harmful to animals and plants.