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Resources 2015, 4(3), 476-489; doi:10.3390/resources4030476

The Energy-Water Nexus: Spatially-Resolved Analysis of the Potential for Desalinating Brackish Groundwater by Use of Solar Energy

1
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 204 E. Dean Keeton St. Stop C2200, Austin, TX 78712, USA
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 204 E. Dean Keeton St. Stop C2200, Austin, TX 78712, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: John A. Luczaj
Received: 19 January 2015 / Revised: 10 June 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 29 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Quantity and Quality)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1049 KB, uploaded 29 June 2015]   |  

Abstract

This research looks at coupling desalination with renewable energy sources to create a high-value product (treated water) from two low value resources (brackish groundwater and intermittent solar energy). Desalination of brackish groundwater is already being considered as a potential new water supply in Texas. This research uses Texas as a testbed for spatially-resolved analysis techniques while considering depth to brackish groundwater, water quality, and solar radiation across Texas to determine the locations with the best potential for integrating solar energy with brackish groundwater desalination. The framework presented herein can be useful for policymakers, regional planners, and project developers as they consider where to site desalination facilities coupled with solar photovoltaics. Results suggest that the northwestern region of Texas—with abundant sunshine and groundwater at relatively shallow depths and low salinity in areas with freshwater scarcity—has the highest potential for solar powered desalination. The range in capacity for solar photovoltaic powered reverse osmosis desalination was found to be 1.56 × 10—6 to 2.93 × 10—5 cubic meters of water per second per square meter of solar panel (m3/s/m2). View Full-Text
Keywords: desalination; groundwater; solar energy; energy-water nexus; solar; photovoltaics; GIS desalination; groundwater; solar energy; energy-water nexus; solar; photovoltaics; GIS
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kjellsson, J.B.; Webber, M.E. The Energy-Water Nexus: Spatially-Resolved Analysis of the Potential for Desalinating Brackish Groundwater by Use of Solar Energy. Resources 2015, 4, 476-489.

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