New “drought breaking” technology on trial

CHELSEA MAPPAS

Source: Bill Kwock

New technology could reduce water consumption in electricity generation Source: Bill Kwock

Power costs and water consumption could potentially reduce thanks to a new research facility opened at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus.

The facility aims to conduct research into hybrid cooling technologies aimed at reducing water consumption used by thermal power generation in drought stricken areas.

Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch said the new technology could have the ability to alter the way electricity is generated in Australia and worldwide while saving water.

“Water conservation is a significant challenge in arid areas and there is a substantial market for technologies that make the most efficient use of this valuable resource,” Enoch said.

“Electricity generation requires large quantities of water and, in response to this challenge, research organisations worldwide are seeking to develop efficient cooling technologies that reduce water consumption.”

Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation Principal Project Officer Brad Scholz said the research will benefit Queensland by supporting solar power.

“The project will benefit Queensland by supporting the development of the Australian Solar Institute solar power plant,” Scholz said.

Scholz said the power plant could significantly decrease the cost of electricity generation.

“[It is] expected to generate electricity at half the present diesel generation cost of 50 cents/kWh,” Scholz said.

Scholz said in addition water consumption could be lowered by over 70,000 megalitres every year if the project is successful.

“[The project will] potentially reduce water consumption in future Queensland power generation plants by over 70,000 megalitres of water per year by 2020,” Scholz said.

Scholz said currently for every one and a half desalination plants 70,000 megalitres are being used.

“70,000 megalitres of water… equivalent to the output of one and a half operating desalination plants,” Scholz said.

Greens member Robert Maxwell said although the project has prospective the efforts need to be ongoing.

“Anything that saves water is a blessing in this dry land but there is more research to go on this one,” Maxwell said.

“As a Green member I support all technology that saves our environment, social and financial capital.”

However Maxwell said as a society we also need to work towards saving water and the environment where we can.

“I do not think we can make the world a better place for us and our decedents without behavioral change,” Maxwell said.

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