Technology powered by PV for off-grid applications

A Berlin-based technology company Boreal Light, specializing in renewable energy solutions for water treatment facilities, has developed a water desalination technology powered by PV for off-grid applications.

Called The Winture Planet Cube, the devices have a capacity of desalinating 1,000 litres of water per hour to 50,000.

The company said the size of the solar array needed to power The Winture Planet Cubes comes down to three factors: capacity, the salinity of the water, and the depth of the borehole which water is extracted from. 

The off-grid device can treat seawater, wastewater, brackish water, or surface area.

On average, a machine of 2,000 litres per hour needs a PV array with an installed capacity of 11 Kilowatt (kW), for most projects the company developed in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the organization, 80 per cent of the machine’s maintenance can be performed by a plumber using the simple tools in their bag. 

The Winture Planet Cube is powered by a 460W monocrystalline silicon PV panels from DAH solar and uses low-pressure reverse osmosis membranes to desalinate the water. 

The estimated production cost of water from direct seawater is €0.50/m3. For brackish water, the price decreases to €0.28/m3. 

Internet of Things (IoT) enabled, the device is connected via a SIM card, which allows Boreal Light to perform remote monitoring and control the machines from Berlin.

“We can read 36 sensors in the machines from Berlin. We can also give orders and update the machine software with a click. Such remote controlling for us is part of making the operation simple in remote parts of the world,” said an organization spokesperson.

Boreal Light is in operation in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

In areas of the world that experience high water stress and lacking natural water sources, desalination is the only viable option for potable water. 

Other recent notable developments on decentralized desalination include towards the end of 2022, Dutch start-up Desolenator BV signed an agreement with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to design and build a carbon-neutral water purification and desalination system powered by solar energy.

Meanwhile, in the Nordics, Norwegian firm Ocean Oasis developed an off-shore wave-powered floating desalination solution, currently being tested in the Canary Islands.

In the Middle East, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the UAE, Jordan and Israel was signed to advance the use of clean energy and sustainable water desalination projects.