The Energy-Water Nexus: An Analysis and Comparison of Various Conjurations Integrating Desalination with Renewable Power

This investigation studies desalination powered by wind and solar energy, including a study of a configuration using PVT solar panels. First, a water treatment was developed to estimate the power requirement for brackish groundwater reverse-osmosis (BWRO) desalination. Next, an energy model was designed to (1) size a wind farm based on this power requirement and (2) size a solar farm to preheat water before reverse osmosis treatment. Finally, an integrated model was developed that combines results from the water treatment and energy models. The integrated model optimizes performances of the proposed facility to maximize daily operational profits. Results indicate that integrated facility can reduce grid-purchased electricity costs by 88% during summer months and 89% during winter when compared to a stand-alone desalination plant. Additionally, the model suggests that the integrated configuration can generate $574 during summer and $252 during winter from sales of wind- and solar-generated electricity to supplement revenue from water production. These results indicate that an integrated facility combining desalination, wind power, and solar power can potentially reduce reliance on grid-purchased electricity and advance the use of renewable power.