Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Solar power with a free side of drinking water

An integrated system seamlessly harnesses sunlight to cogenerate electricity and fresh water.


​A multifunctional device that captures the heat shed by photovoltaic solar panels has been developed by KAUST and used to generate clean drinking water as a way to simultaneously generate electricity and water using only renewable energy.

Water and energy production is deeply intertwined, says Wenbin Wang, a Ph.D. student in Peng Wang’s labs at the University's Water Desalination and Reuse Center. Conventional solar farms use fresh water to wash dust from the panels. Meanwhile, water desalination plants consume a lot of electricity to produce fresh water from seawater. “The water-energy nexus is one of the main issues threatening sustainable global development,” Wenbin says.

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Image: A solar farm of photovoltaic panels with a heat-driven seawater desalination system beneath each panel could cogenerate renewable electricity and fresh water in arid coastal areas.
© 2019 Wenbin Wang

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