The Solar Technology That Could Solve California's Water Problem
The founders of a California company are gearing up to make a difference in their state's future—about 2 million gallons worth of a difference.
As the state battles a lengthy drought and considers spending $7 billion to $9 billion to produce, transport and store fresh water, WaterFX, a San Francisco-based, independent water producer says it has been testing a potential solution for the past year.
In Fresno County, WaterFX has been converting irrigation runoff to pure water at its solar thermal desalination plant as part of a project for the Panoche Water and Drainage District. According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, it's the only solar-based desalination plant in the country. It currently produces 14,000 gallons per day, but its owners say that amount could grow to 2 million in the near future.
"Eventually, if this all goes where I think it can, California could wind up with so much water it's able to export it instead of having to deal with shortages," co-founder Aaron Mandell told the publication. "What we are doing here is sustainable, scalable and affordable."
The plant uses Concentrated Solar Still technology through a large solar reflector that focuses the sun long tubes with mineral oil. The heated tube creates steam to condense contaminated water into pure water, separating the minerals. Mandell said he hopes to process about 10 times the amount of water within five years. The solar desalination plant produces water for $450 per acre-foot—about one-quarter of what more typically desalinated water costs.
Farmers in the test area are on board and excited to see what the future holds.
"This situation right now is a killer, and anything that adds to a potential water supply is good," Mike Stearns, a fourth-generation farmer in the Panoche district, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Sterns said the drought will force him to fallow much of his tomato and onion fields this year.
"It appears this solar system will be cost-effective, and if Aaron can perform as we think he can, it can make a huge difference—be a great supplement at the very least," Dennis Falaschi, manager of the Panoche district added. "We're talking about basically unusable drainage water that is in everybody's interest to mine.
"This solar plant could be a very important part of where we want to be in terms of being self-sufficient in the valley."
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.