A commercial-scale, seawater desalination plant powered by solar and wind energy that produces freshwater and dry salt has been designed by Spanish researchers. The new process does not discharge highly concentrated salty water back into the sea as a by-product, ensuring that there is little damage to the marine environment. Desalination plants extract freshwater from seawater and the technology is seen as one way to meet rising demands for drinking water in drier climates. Inflowing seawater is used as both a coolant and as feedstock for the separation of salt and freshwater, but the process is energy intensive and environmental damage can occur if brine water, which has a higher salt concentration than seawater, is produced as a by-product and returned to the sea.
The plant was designed to minimise the overall impact on the environment.
Renewable energy in the form of solar and wind power is used instead of energy derived from fossil fuels and salt is extracted as a valuable by-product