Renewable Energy and Water Desalination

First name: 
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Menachem Elimelech
Essay Abstract: 
Freshwater resources are rapidly becoming a global issue. Water scarcity worldwide will be exacerbated as climate change, and rapid increases in population, pollution, and agriculture place higher demand on Earth’s limited freshwater supply. Reverse osmosis desalination is a technique currently used around the world to provide fresh water. This process is energy intensive and has relied heavily on fossil fuels to meet that energy demand in the past. It has been proven that the energy demand of reverse osmosis desalination can be met using renewable energy sources. Through long-term studies and economic analyses of current projects, researchers have proven RE desalination to be cost-competitive with other means of freshwater supply. The economic viability of these systems has already surpassed that of conventional methods in many cases. If developed and implemented in conjunction with conventional water supply systems as well as government policy changes, these RE-based desalination systems could easily help alleviate the world’s drinking water problems in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner while fostering global economic and socio-cultural growth.