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There are many motivations for choosing renewable energy technologies to provide the necessary energy to power water treatment systems for reuse and desalination. These range from the lack of an existing electricity grid, particularly in remote areas, to securing future energy and water supplies, to purely financial incentives. While many renewable energy technologies exist, the two dominant ones used for powering desalination systems are PV modules and wind turbines. While wave power devices are a less mature technology, there are definitely synergies for desalination if these systems can be demonstrated to last 20 years in the harsh marine environment. Wind energy exhibits the lowest cost of electricity produced, while solar electricity is the highest. However, PV modules have a definite advantage as they contain no moving parts, thus enabling them to operate well in harsh conditions for over 20 years.

Solar technologies are particularly promising for powering water treatment schemes, given that the amount of power produced in summer will also coincide with increased water demand. The hypothesis was presented that energy storage devices may not be required, and that variations in the supply of energy could be absorbed by storing enough product water. Finally, the performance of a PV-powered membrane system filtering very brackish in outback Australia over a solar day was described. The system was able to tolerate large fluctuations in solar irradiance availability, however, more extensive testing is required before a more conclusive answer can be provided as to whether the use of batteries in such systems can be truly avoided.

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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