Wind4Water partners wind turbines with water desalination plants to create a pre-engineered, modular facility that the companies say can be deployed around the world to address the global water shortage.
The first project has been sited for Cape Verde, Africa, which has one of the lowest groundwater levels on the continent. Once implemented, the technology will reduce dependency on fossil fuels and allow the growing country to meet new demands for infrastructure and agriculture, according to Associated Wind Developers and Water Management Group.
Historically, communities that depend on desalinization plants for their water supply have relied on fossil fuels shipped from other countries. Not only does wind energy reduce dependency on foreign sources, it can also generate water at half the cost, the companies say.
Additionally, the marriage of wind turbines with desalinization plants addresses a historic criticism of wind energy in that storage of wind energy is expensive. In the Wind4Water model, excess energy is stored in the form of fresh water, which the companies say can be easily and inexpensively stored.
Brian Kuhn says his company, Associated Wind Developers of Plymouth, Mass., hopes to partner with nonprofits and investors in scaling the technology worldwide.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013, the water supply crisis is one of the world’s greatest risks, IBM South America’s Ahmed Simjee writes in an Environmental Leader guest column published in May. In terms of likelihood, water availability (or lack thereof) is ranked fourth highest risk to global security and in terms of impact it is rated as the second highest, he says.
The rise of mega cities is placing skyrocketing new demand on water supplies. By 2025, two-thirds of the world is projected to face water scarcity, Simjee writes.
In April, Coca-Cola partnered with WaterAid to provide safe drinking water to one of the poorest suburbs of Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, in western Africa, and in two rural communities in southern Ethiopia.