A Review on Future of Solar Desalination Technologies- Energy Input Outlook
Due to global warming, freshwater sources are depleting, leading to scarcity of fresh water and affecting billions of people across the globe. Therefore, desalination technology is deployed to generate fresh water from salt water to meet the demand. Desalination is an energy-demanding process that takes a lot of power to run its operation, a significant barrier to its growth. Most of the energy in the form of electricity comes from the thermal power plant, which runs on fossil fuels, which leads to substantial emissions. Therefore, efforts are made to utilise solar energy using photovoltaics and solar thermal collector to generate energy in heat and electricity, which can be utilised in desalination technologies. According to International Renewable Energy Agency 2012, merely 1% of the water produced from total desalinated water is from renewable energy-based sources. Various thermal desalination technologies are presented in this review work. Further integration of photovoltaics and solar thermal collector as an energy input source with the desalination technology is discussed. It has been established that the simultaneous use of photovoltaics and solar thermal in desalination technologies could be a viable alternative to stand-alone photovoltaics and solar thermal-based desalination technologies because of simultaneous heat input and electricity improves specific energy consumption and energy efficiency reducing grid dependency. Solar photovoltaic thermal collector provides enhanced energy output within the same area, generating desalinated water at a lower cost and effectiveness of such systems, with some studies reporting up to a 59% increase in water production compared to conventional desalination processes. Apart from the economic and technical advantages found in the open literature, complicated system design, its control and operation strategy, and low technology maturity limit the deployment of photovoltaic thermal collectors in the real world, which requires further research.
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