Drinking water made by wind turbines?

Over one billion people worldwide live without access to safe drinking water, and the pressures of climate change and a rising global population mean this figure is likely to increase. A French wind power company is trying to alleviate this problem – inventing the first wind turbine that can produce drinking water by condensing the air.

The company spent more than 18 months developing and testing in France what it claims is “the world’s first wind turbine capable of producing 1,000 litres of water per day by the condensation of air”. It recently shipped the technology to Abu Dhabi so it can “undergo its first phases of tests in the harsh weather conditions of the Middle East” before the permanent implantation of the turbine.

The WMS1000 wind turbine has proved during initial trials that it can collect on average more than 62 litres of water per hour with an average humidity rate of 45% and an average temperature of 24° C. And it can produce water of a higher drinking water quality than that demanded by World Health Organisation standards.

Wind energy already saves water

Meanwhile, wind power is already saving water since it uses very little water to produce electricity. The power sector in general is one of the world’s biggest consumers of water for activities including pumping crude oil out of the ground, removing pollutants from power plant exhausts, flushing residues after fossil fuels are burned and cooling power plants.

Coal uses up to 3.2 cubic metres of water per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced, gas uses up to 1.7 m3 per MWh and nuclear around 2.7 m3 per MWh, but wind power uses only a fraction of these amounts.

At the same time, wind power is being used around the world to help some of the poorest communities. One such community, in the tiny village of Cajiniquil in central Nicaragua, has a 1kW wind turbine installed by EWEA’s chosen charity Renewable World. The turbine, installed in 2010, provides enough electricity to power electric lights, replacing the dangerous, smoking home-made paraffin lamps they used before. Moreover, the turbine powers an electric water pump so the villagers have access to clean water, rather than the river water they used to drag up to the village in buckets

Philippa Jones, http://blog.ewea.org/