A Solar Farm is Providing Drinking Water to 50,000 People a Day

The Solar Water Farm brought potable water to a remote town in Papua New Guinea.
Fabienne Lang

You likely don't think twice as you reach for a glass and fill it with water from your kitchen tap. But unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury. Globally, one in three people doesn't have access to safe drinking water.

With the decreasing availability of high-quality freshwater, more and more communities are turning to desalination to produce drinkable water from brackish water and saltwater. But the desalination process can be expensive. The San Diego County Water Authority, for example, pays about $1,200 to $2,200 for an acre-foot (1,233,481 lt)of desalinated water, depending on the source.

Luckily, an NGO called GivePower seems to have found an affordable solution that's helping communities around the world. 

A solar solution

GivePower's desalination systems are powered entirely by solar energy and battery storage. Housed in 20-foot (6 m) shipping containers, they're capable of transforming 18,492 gallons (70,000 lt) of seawater into drinking water daily. 

Their systems cost just over $500,000 and have a 20-year lifespan. 

In 2018, GivePower installed its first Solar Water Farm in Kiunga, on the Eastern Coast of Kenya, situated by the Indian Ocean. The region suffered extreme drought for many years, and the 3,500 inhabitants of Kiunga village didn't have access to clean drinking water. 

Before their solar farm installation, the people of Kiunga sometimes had to travel up to one hour each way a day just to get enough drinking water. Because each and every drop of water is so precious to them, families and village members usually bathed and washed their clothes in salty water — something that is very harsh on the skin. 

The introduction of the Solar Water Farm changed all of that. As of 2019, the plant was producing enough drinking water for up to 50,000 people daily.

And this was just the beginning. 

A cleaner future

To date, GivePower has completed 2,650 solar power installations across 17 countries. 

In April 2020, GivePower deployed additional solar water farms in both Mombasa, Kenya and La Gonâve, Haiti. A few months later, in June 2020, GivePower's Solar Water Farm Max went live in Likoni, Kenya. 

GivePower has also developed solar installations in underdeveloped areas of the U.S., including Standing Rock in 2019 — the largest solar installation in North Dakota. 

Drinking contaminated water can lead to debilitating waterborne illnesses and diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Moreover, it is a basic human right to have access to potable water. GivePower's work it's a huge step forward for solar energy usage.

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