Growth patterns in mature desalination technologies and analogies with the energy field

Mayor Rodriguez B (2019). Growth patterns in mature desalination technologies and analogies with the energy field. Desalination 457: 75-84. DOI:10.1016/j.desal.2019.01.029.

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Abstract

This article uses logistic growth curves to analyze and compare the historical dynamics in technology deployment and unit upscaling experimented by the three main desalination technologies: multi-effect distillation (MED), multi-flash distillation (MSF) and reverse osmosis (RO). It also explores whether these dynamics follow a number of patterns identified in another well studied technology family with increasing strategic importance for desalination, i.e. energy technologies. The analysis suggests that thermal technologies (MED and MSF) are in an advanced growth phase and approaching saturation, with deployment levels likely to peak before 2050. The logistic fit for RO lacks enough significance to derive meaningful future capacity projections. RO also shows a remarkably high average-to-maximum unit capacity ratio mirroring a modular and more granular nature. Meanwhile, the three technologies are found to meet a series of common patterns in the temporal and spatial sequence of deployment identified in energy technologies. Based on such patterns and technology natures, PV-RO hybrid systems may hold the highest potential to overcome the cost and energy footprint challenges of desalination in the future. This analysis can guide the integration of desalination into modelling frameworks intended to assess future technological scenarios to address water scarcity and sustainable development goals related challenges.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Desalination deployment; Upscaling; Energy; Trends
Research Programs: Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2019 09:48
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 10:08
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15735

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