Barge-mounted desalination plants aren’t unique – the Saudis first deployed them in 2008 – but Israel’s IDE Technologies Ltd. and Japanese shipbuilders have a plan to take offshore floating desalination to a whole new level.
Fresh water is an unbelievably rare resource across the globe – one in six people lack access to clean water and more than 3.4 million people die each year because of its scarcity.
Even in places where water is plentiful, it may be contaminated, or the existing infrastructure may be ill-equipped to deliver sufficient resources to swelling populations.
Stationary desalination plants are restricted to towns and cities within reach of their pipelines, and they come with a smorgasbord of environmental complications.
Mobile, floating desalination plants can travel from place to place to deliver water to more people on an as-needed basis, but desalination is no panacea.
If anything, it spreads the problem, disperses it, and allows us to destroy our resources more quickly.
It’s expensive to make salt water fit for drinking as it requires a great deal of energy, and at the moment, most desalination plants are not solar-powered. Eventually this will change, but for now we’re mostly stuck with fossil-fueled desalination.
IDE Technologies recently announced that it is likely to deliver a fleet of custom offshore floating desalination plants within the next three years; each ship would be able to produce up to 120,000 cubic meters of fresh water in a day.
Udi Tirosh, a business development director at IDE, told Bloomberg News “ship-based designs could supply water for a city of 850,000 people and Japan’s shipbuilders are among potential partners.”
“The idea is to develop with our partners a multi-year, multi-vessel plan that would eventually supply significant capacity in various places in the world.”
Good news – getting fresh water to more people, saving lives – but also disturbing. What will our oceans look like in 10, 20, 30 years? Enormous cesspools of briny, trashy water filled with jellyfish and oil sheen?
Image via screenshot of IDE Technologies You Tube demonstration