I registered recently for the National Salinity Summit in Las Vegas in January. Its pretty convenient for me this time as I have an internet marketing conference to attend that week. All I have to do is hop from one hotel to another because the conferences come one right after the other.

I noticed that a theme of the desalination conference is water and energy projects combined. Before I get started on this post I think it should be mentioned that now is a very good time for financing public or private energy/water projects. On the private side– over a trillion dollars have come out of the stock market. People are really fried by their losses. Dull returns obtained by financing water projects can look pretty good to these folk now. All ya gotta do is create the investment vehicles, draw up the blueprints, get all the state federal and local permissions and show that the state or someone will buy the water. So investors can say this is a great way to preserve capital plus make a few points — plus do something green.

It also looks very much like the federal government is gearing up to spend several hundred billion dollars on public works and/or energy projects. Funding will not come slowly: According to the NY Times

Mr. Obama promised to set new rules to govern spending, such as a “use it or lose it” requirement that states act quickly

Democrats hope the new Congress that takes office in early January could pass such a measure in time for Mr. Obama to sign almost instantly after taking office Jan. 20.

These public works projects include solar and wind farms. According to the “>Washington Post.

President-elect Barack Obama is developing a plan to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs over the next two years by spending billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public schools, and construct wind farms and other alternative sources of energy.

Obama said his plan would launch “a two-year nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels,” as well as producing fuel-efficient cars.

President-elect Obama’s alternative energy plan, called New Energy for America, could have a significant impact on the U.S. solar industry. The plan’s provisions include:

* A federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. to come from renewable sources by 2012.
* A $150 billion investment over 10 years in research, technology demonstration, and commercial deployment of clean energy technology.
* Extension of production tax credits for five years to encourage renewable energy production.
* A cap-and-trade system of carbon credits to provide an incentive for businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A well designed package — that is not experimental–will attract public money. Someone, or some group with a really creative financing ability imho could just leverage public & private financing off each other across a variety of power projects. A model could be built that could be replicated. Really, this is one seriously opportune moment for this kind of thing. Is there an ambitious consulting agency in the house? Really. How do you do this? I don’t know. Invite some people from wall st to the conference. Fund a couple of different sharp consultants and or agencies. Pair them up with various federal and state officials. Really, this is one seriously opportune moment for this kind of thing. The kicker is to scale it. That is you know. Once you get a model you replicate it.

For example last year we were shown a very interesting slide –which I can’t find now. The slide shows the best places for solar and wind power projects. You can generally figure that the best places for solar are in the southwest and the best places for wind are in the midwest. Well, a great presentation would be to map over best places for energy and wind power plants onto deepest/widest brackish aquifers. Choose the 10-20 best places for both power and water generation. In terms of cost rank them by proximity to the grid and/or end users.

These places are usually far from the power grid. So you might get the federal government to pay for the utility lines to the grid–maybe even water pipelines–but not maintenance. (Certainly that would be cheaper than piping water down from Alaska or Canada.) Heck the government might be interested in funding the solar or wind farms outright. Certainly there are certain tax advantages that coal plants enjoy because the cost of their coal can be deducted whereas the wind and the sun cannot be deducted from taxes. Set these tax advantages aside. That is, don’t raise taxes on the coal plants but rather give solar power plants comparable tax advantages. Some of this is already in the works. According to the WSJ.

Green-technology advocates, for their part, want to include such elements as a multiyear extension of a tax credit for investment in wind power, plus another credit for solar-power makers. All told, they estimate the green component could be $50 billion, or 10% of the overall package.

Get the federal state & local governments to provide the permissions and right of ways. (And uh, someone will need to have a little heart to heart with the BLM.) A cheap energy source cuts into energy costs for desalination plants. Brackish water desalinizes relatively cheaply. Guarantee a buyer. Shouldn’t be too hard in the southwest. Might even be easy for the upper midwest. With that in place bring in the private investors fo fund the water desal plants (and whatever portion of the power plants the feds won’t do. (Maybe this could be funded/profited all publicly or all privately. I’m just throwing out one model.) Some of this is already in planning.

Some of the stimulus plan’s targets may be so complicated that the Obama team will need subsequent legislation to make it work, Mr. Schmidt said. The economic plan might set aside money for renewable-energy projects, and in subsequent legislation, mandate that utilities use electricity generated by sources such as wind and solar projects.

Now I’m ready to talk about the ocean. The deep ocean.

In my last post, I mentioned that membranes may be so efficient that maybe  five years from now you could drill a slant well out a couple hundred feet into the Santa Barbara Channel, attach an efficient membrane on the end and let fresh water flow downhill toward shore. Current membrane technology would require that you place the membranes at about 1700 feet–but in the future perhaps you would need only go down 100-200 feet.

Nice idea.

Interestingly, today there is a big business for deep desalinated water that comes from off the shore of the Big Island in Hawaii. Its expensive bottled water. The Japanese love the stuff.

The drop off from the big island is so steep that they don’t have to go far from shore to reach 1700 feet. However, the salt water is not desalinated at 1700 feet.

The state pumps the water using two pipes that go down 2,000 feet and then transports it to the companies, which do the desalination, filtering, bottling and packaging. The state will soon complete construction of a new 55-inch pipe that goes 3,000 feet deep.

That was written in 2004. There are now two pipelines that run up from the deep off the Big Island.

We’re talking bottled water here. The Japanese think the desalinated deep sea water is something special. That may well be the case. Why? A lot of sea creatures thrive on the mineral content provided by the deep water.There is a commercial experimental station on the Big Island with one very big idea. Deep water can be used for many commercial purposes. A great field trip for American water officials would be a visit to that Big Island Experimental facility. Why? Because discussions with businesses there will help water officials to think of brackish or seawater water salts and minerals not as waste but as a resource.

It looks like they’ll be adding energy production to that process.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle Tuesday announced a new energy partnership to develop a 10 megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion pilot plant in Hawaii. Electricity will be generated from the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its colder depths.

Now before I go to the article, notice how they will be combining water and power production together. But notice something further. Power and water production are the basis for a food chain. An ecosystem. That’s what the business experimental station on the Big Island shows. That’s what the Hoover Dam provides. It provides the basis of an ecosystem food chain. The Cadillac Desert. How? By providing both power and water. Same would go for solar/wind desal projects. They would become the basis for new ecosystem food chains.

Remember this language that I’m using. Ecosystem. Food chain. This language is the language that people in the incoming administration use when describing their online systems. Consider this discussion of Google strategy.

I am very impressed lately by Google’s commitment to open source. Specifically, I love their strategy of what I call the ‘Catch and Release’ strategy for developing their ecosystem of developers and partners.

They are certainly doing a lot of land grabbing, but they are releasing their innovations and improvements as open source. This strategy for ecosystem development is much different than Microsoft’s old model (closed ecosystem embrace and extend). Google is earning credibility in a new way by enabling key technology and then by releasing code for open for open collaboration and development – Catch and Release.

Now listen to Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc–an Obama economic adviser, discuss the incoming administrations spending strategy,

“America’s unique excellence is innovation, and it’s easy to understand businesses that innovate are the ones that have the longest and largest kinds of impact,” said Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. and an Obama economic adviser, in an interview. “You would want to invest in something that would not just physically build a bridge, but would help build businesses that would create more wealth.”

Here Mr Schmidt is talking the language of real estate developers. You buy a piece of property on the outskirts of the city in the path of development, upgrade the land by putting in water and power (Sewage too, depending on how much time and money you have. And then rezone the land.)

While its clear that water and energy go together. They are basis of any food chain. Why is this important politically?

Even so, the Obama team remains split over how much money to devote to green and high-tech projects, and how much to focus on traditional infrastructure.

In purely economic terms, a traditional infrastructure building spree might provide the biggest bang, Mr. Zandi said. But, he added, “there’s something to be said for an infrastructure program that captures the imagination, because confidence is just shot.”

In terms of sales pitches — the Hoover Dam was emblematic of the New Deal. Solar/Wind/desal projects could be emblematic of the new Admin. There are others–like the Hawiian project below. The point is always the same. Water and energy projects go together, they create wealth and they capture the imagination.

Anyhow, here is the article. (Oh and notice how the DOE, the state of Hawaii, Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, and Lockheed Martin work together. For future purposes substitute any American Laboratory for the TTRI.)

Hawaii Governor Signs Ocean Thermal Energy Deal
TAIPEI, Taiwan, November 20, 2008 (ENS) – Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle Tuesday announced a new energy partnership to develop a 10 megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion pilot plant in Hawaii. Electricity will be generated from the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its colder depths.

Governor Lingle made the announcement from Taiwan, where she is meeting with officials to promote tourism and business partnerships as part of her ongoing 11 day trip to Asia.

During the Governor’s official state visit to Taiwan, she came to an agreement with the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Lockheed Martin Corporation to build the initial pilot plant in Hawaii.

OTEC systems work by converting solar radiation to electric power. As long as the temperature between the warm surface water and the cold deep water differs by about 36°F, an OTEC system can produce a significant amount of power, turning the oceans a vast renewable resource, with the potential to produce billions of watts of electric power.

“As island economies in the Pacific, Taiwan and the State of Hawaii share very similar challenges of overdependence on imported petroleum for their energy needs,” Governor Lingle said. “Taiwan and Hawaii also share a common vision and plan to increase renewable and clean energy generation based on indigenous energy resources.”

The current economics of energy production have delayed the financing of a permanent, continuously operating ocean thermal energy conversion plant. But OTEC technology is viewed as promising for tropical island communities that rely heavily on imported fuel.

Hawaii currently relies on imported fossil fuel for about 94 percent of its primary energy – the balance is from renewable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal power.

Ocean thermal energy conversion plants could provide islanders with much-needed power, as well as desalinated water.

Taiwan is even more dependent on imported fuels than Hawaii, with less than one percent of its primary supply derived from indigenous renewable sources.

The Bureau of Energy of Taiwan is working to increase conservation and energy efficiency, and to develop renewable energy so that it accounts for 12 percent of Taiwan’s total installed capacity by 2020.

The ocean temperatures and the subsea terrain make the waters surrounding both Taiwan and Hawaii superior locations for this technology.

This latest agreement with Taiwan complements the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership between the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy which will move the state away from its dependence on fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy that is intended to be a model for other states and regions.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corporation has developed and studied ocean thermal energy conversion technology for over 30 years. Its plans for a 10 megawatt OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii are already underway.

Most OTEC research and development in recent decades has been performed at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, or NELHA, located at Keahole Point, Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has become the world’s foremost laboratory and test facility for OTEC technologies.

Huge pipelines bringing cold, deep ocean water to the surface have enabled the demonstration of a variety of ocean thermal energy conversion components and pilot plants.

The first closed-cycle, at-sea OTEC plant to generate net electricity, was deployed in the waters off the NELHA lab in 1979. It was dubbed Mini-OTEC.

Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was a partner in that effort as well as subsequent research at NELHA.

In May 1993, an open-cycle OTEC plant at NELHA, produced 50,000 watts of electricity during a net power-producing experiment. This broke the record of 40,000 watts set by a Japanese system in 1982.

Today, scientists are developing new, cost-effective, state-of-the-art turbines for open-cycle OTEC systems, yet currently there is no facility in Hawaii producing electricity using OTEC technology.

In January 2008, Governor Lingle announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, an unprecedented partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy that aims to have at least 70 percent of Hawaii’s power come from clean energy within one generation – by 2030.

Lingle says that as Hawaii is the world’s most isolated archipelago and is also the most oil-dependent state in America, a clean energy future for Hawaii isn’t simply a desire – it’s a necessity. in


  1. I cannot find a program of any sort for the National Salination Summit. I wanted to be sure it was still going to occur, given our economic turmoil. So I emailed (2x) and phoned (1x) the Multistate Salinity Coalition. I have received no answer and am wondering if this is “real”. Any insight?

    Comment by Richard — December 16, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

  2. Here’s their url


    Comment by Charles — December 16, 2008 @ 9:40 pm

  3. […] Desalination Research And Development Breaking News Incisive Analysis « Hawaii Governor Signs Ocean Thermal Energy Deal […]

    Pingback by Sen. Ken Salazar DOI Steven Chu DOE « Desalination Research And Development — December 18, 2008 @ 3:15 am

  4. […] ideas I talked about. So I inserted these in my last post. If you went to my last post early check back. (Just skim down and check  the writing in block quotes.) This week’s post includes a piece […]

    Pingback by Sen. Ken Salazar DOI Steven Chu DOE | Water Power R&D — February 10, 2010 @ 6:42 am

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