The Carlsbad Desalination Project will be the biggest desal plant in the western hemisphere when it open in November in San Diego. While the price of desalination is dropping, it is still quite expensive and is problematic in two ways. 1) The salt is dumped back into the ocean, adversely affecting marine life. 2) Desal requires large amounts of electricity, which mostly comes from non-renewable sources now, increasing carbon emissions. Also electricity generation often requires substantial amounts of water for cooling. Thus, water is used to generated energy which is used to desalinate water. Hmm.
Renewable energy from wind and PV solar uses practically no water and could be a long-term solution to the interconnected problem of the relationship between water and electricity creation.
The project will generate 50 million gallons of water a day, enough for 7% of San Diego and will cost about $1 billion.
“Desalinated water will be more expensive than imported water when it comes online,” Jones said. “But soon, imported water rates will continue to rise and imported water will be more expensive than desalinated water. And what we need to look at as consumers is what is the cost of not having water at all.”
Paying to offset emissions elsewhere for damage the plant will do is not sustainable or a solution.
The company developing the plant here, Poseidon Water, has promised to counter the environmental damage. For instance, it will pay into a California program that finances projects to offset emissions of greenhouse gases.