82. [Invited Essay] Decentralized co-generation of fresh water and eletricity at point-of-consumption, Wenbin Wang, Sara Aleid, Peng Wang* Advanced Sustainable Systems, 2020: 2000005

2020-04-01 14:51:25 adminddy 42

Most of us believe that additional anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere will push the Earth into a vicious cycle and down a path of no return. Consequently, solar energy must sit at the center of the water-energy-climate nexus as the world is shifting into a decarbonized and circular economy. Simultaneous production of electricity and fresh water by photovoltaic-membrane distillation (PV-MD), a newly developed technology, turns waste heat from solar PV panels into a power source to drive efficient water distillation process. It produces fresh and clean potable-quality water on-site from various water sources with impaired quality, such as seawater, contaminated rivers, lakes, groundwater, and industrial wastewater. Due to the low barrier of entry, it is well suited to providing both electricity and fresh water in decentralized manner for point-of-consumption locations, especially off-grid communities and communities with small- to medium-sized populations even with challenging economic conditions. The adoption of PV-MD would reduce the overall cost of otherwise long-distance electricity transmission and transportation of water by conventional means and thus it is a cost-effective shortcut to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) stipulated by the United Nations. This essay highlights the potential of PV-MD to supply decentralized water and electricity for regions suffering from both economic and physical water scarcity as well as its promise to contribute to agriculture in (semi)arid regions.