Drinking water for Fuerteventura
Drinking water is in short supply on the Atlantic island of Fuerteventura. Currently power from diesel generators is used to desalinate sea water, but soon wind and solar power will be used to produce clean energy and water for agricultural purposes. Protect the Planet initiated the Aguasol project.
Energy-efficient water supply – an environmental and agricultural necessity
The water supply shortage on Fuerteventura is an age-old and serious problem. For centuries now, the demand for groundwater has far exceeded the amount delivered by rainfall and the growing tourism industry has only exacerbated the situation. The steady decline in the water table has led to desertification of parts of the island. Only ten percent of food consumed there is locally grown.
Making Fuerteventura a sustainable island – the vision to create a new world model
“The idea of a desalination plant directly linked to wind turbines is a pioneer project”
– Tony Gallardo, Director de la Reserva de la Biosfera Fuerteventura –
The current solution is no solution
Currently seawater is converted into drinking water with the help of fossil fuel. This is an expensive and energy-intensive process for which a diesel power plant delivers the necessary electricity – backed by state subsidised oil and the support of influential interest groups. Meanwhile, the carbon emissions produced and resultant particle pollution are a threat to human life and the natural environment.
Drinking water derived from renewables is the way of the future
The urgently needed solution is water powered by renewables and the express goal is to soon supply Fuerteventura with an energy-efficient and clean alternative. Protect the Planet launched the Aguasol initiative in 2015 and is helping the island government with this project of:
Converting the water supply over several stages to 100% renewables. An initial pilot plant has already demonstrated the feasibility of this approach
Supplying the population with a greater volume of more affordable drinking water
Producing as much water as necessary to green parts of the island so that independent agricultural production can be developed
Update: Wind turbine planned
The seawater desalination plant in Puerto del Rosario will be equipped with a 2-MW wind turbine for power generation. We were there in April 2017 to discuss the way forward for this collaborative venture with the mayor of Puerto del Rosario and other stakeholders. The meeting included a visit to the site of the proposed plant. The wind turbine is a first step to enabling desalination of seawater on Fuerteventura and in future, hopefully, renewable power supply for the island. The mayoral office also posted this article (in Spanish) about our visit on its own website.
Aguasol drinking water project
Protect the Planet is supporting Fuerteventura with technical know-how and private investment. The driving force behind this project is entrepreneur Dorothea Sick-Thies, whose father successfully desalinated seawater on the island using home-made solar panels back in 1986 and also used it to water plants.