Wind and Solar Powered Desalination Plant in Drought-Stricken Marshall Islands

On Kili, a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands, the region’s second permanent wind and solar powered water desalination plant is now operational. Earlier this year, a similar plant was installed on Utrik, 400 miles to the north. The region has suffered a years-long drought.

In 1946, the US government convinced the residents of Marshall Island’s Bikini Atoll to yield their pristine homeland to nuclear bomb testing that would produce “kindness and benefit to all mankind.” Believing their sacrifice would help humanity and assured that they would soon return, the Bikini Islanders agreed to leave. Two years later, their islands rendered uninhabitable by deadly nuclear fallout, they were evacuated to isolated and uninhabited Kili Island. To this day, they remain a people in exile.

On Kili, Tom Vance of Moana Marine LLC installed two Spectra LB-2800 reverse osmosis desalination systems, which convert sea water into over 5600 gallons per day of clean, fresh, EPA-approved drinking water. Before the installation, Kili’s 1200 residents suffered not only from drought, but from polluted ground water, which had to be boiled before drinking.

A typical desalinating plant of this size would be powered by a diesel generator. Because of the energy efficiency of the Spectra desalination systems, the whole plant can be powered by wind and solar power, saving tens of thousands per year in fuel costs. Moreover, with increasingly expensive fuel and unreliable supplies due to seasonal rough seas, alternative energy-powered systems are the only way to assure a consistent, affordable water supply.

Spectra uses proprietary energy-recovery pumps, making their systems the most energy-efficient in the industry, and therefore the best for solar and wind-powered installations.

The two installations stand as a model for drought preparedness and safe, sustainable water production in the Pacific Island region.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

1 Comment

  • Peter Thomson says:

    The first of many – Installations like this will become increasingly common and necessary as climate change really starts to bite.

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