Solar power and desalination
Getting water to the desert.

WIP warning

This is merely a discussion.


NEOM is a proposed futuristic city in Saudi Arabia which would be built in the desert and around a 100 mile-long straight rail corridor, starting at the Red Sea and going directly inland.

There is simply not enough local water to support a large population in that part of the world, so how could water be supplied?

This part of the world is rich in two things - sea water and sunlight.

How much water do humans need?

In Australia, the average person uses about 160 litres of water a day for personal indoor use.

60 Lshower
30 Lwashing clothes
20 Lflushing toilet
10 Lsinks and basins
40 Lother
Bear in mind too, that 140 litres of this can be safely reused as gray water for external trees or a very small patch of lawn, but that is getting off topic.

Solar power and desalination

Desalination of water requires a theoretical minimum of 1 kWh/kL of water, but in practice would be around 3 kWh/kL. Hence people would need 0.48 kWh of energy per day to desalinate their personal water needs. Solar panels get between 4.8 and 6.3 hours of peak sun-hours per day in the UAE (probably pretty indicative of Saudi).

So, round figures, say 0.5 kWh/day of energy from 5 hours of sunlight would require a 100 Watt solar panel. Doubling this for inefficiencies in the processes, make this a 200 Watt solar panel.

Yes, a single 200 Watt solar panel per person to meet their water desalination requirements. That's all.

Of course there are other requirements - the desalination plant can only be run during the day unless energy is stored, the water still has to be pumped up to 100 miles from the nearest ocean etc.

Industry requirements

Many industries - silicon chip manufacture, data centres etc require massive quantities of water, so these would simply be infeasible. Unfortunate for a 'future' city.

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