We are quickly heading toward a massive water crisis that will affect the entire world. According to the World Health Organization, one in three people already does not have access to clean drinking water as of today. It is estimated that 2 billion people have to use a drinking source that is contaminated with feces. Unfortunately, researchers predict that by 2025 half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas.
On top of the current water scarcity, scientists expect that more water sources will be contaminated by undrinkable saltwater as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change. GivePower, a nonprofit funded by Tesla, has opened the first solar plant in Kenya to convert saltwater into safe drinking water. The new plant in the Kiunga province can provide 20,000 gallons of clean water per day; this is enough for 35,000 people.
In 2008, an estimated 2,800 people were living in the largest town in Kiunga, meaning that the plant can convert enough water for all the people in the area. Before GivePower opened the new plant, the people of Kiunga had to resort to drinking e-coli contaminated water from saltwater wells. GivePower is now converting enough water for the entire population and charging them a quarter of a cent per liter of water. With the average monthly wage in Kenya being approximately 641 USD, this is a fair price to provide families with clean and safe water.
Hayes Barnard, the president of GivePower, hopes that the plant will generate $100,000 per year, which will then be invested back into creating more plants worldwide. The first plan cost approximately $500,000, so the president plans to open a sister desalination system every five years in other water-stressed areas. Not only has the new system brought safe drinking water to Kiunga, but Barnard reports that the solar desalination system has also boosted the local economy. Locals are purchasing water and reselling it to neighboring areas, schools, hotels, and other businesses.
Although the desalination plants are an excellent short-term solution to provide the numerous communities worldwide through water crises, we must still work to get climate change under control, so we don’t risk existing water sources becoming salinated. The partnership of GivePower and Tesla’s solar technology shows that these large projects can be successfully completed with clean energy. I hope that in the future, more companies, whether non-profit or for-profit, also make the switch to sustainable energy sources so that we can continue to grow while healing our planet.
What do you guys think of this new desalination plant?
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Photo: Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash