“The photovoltaic industry has been low margin for so many periods in its history that the concept of a margin healthy enough to profitably run an entire company is anathema to it. Focus on the benefits of multi gigawatt economies of scale on margins belies the lengths that PV manufacturers have undergone to salvage margin; lengths that include sourcing lower cost and thus lower quality backsheets, EVA, glass, junction boxes and polysilicon”…………….states a news item in “Renewable Energy News 11 April 2017”. Fortunately or unfortunately the cost is controlled by China’s photovoltaic industry and not individual contrives promoting solar. Cost of land, water, grid and back up systems costs dictates the unit cost of power. Country’s socio economic status will be health only when subsidies are removed.
It is not so in the case of geothermal. This energy source can afford to supply energy at affordable cost without subsidy. In the current context, where countries are starving for fresh water, geothermal sourced desalination plants will provide water for the asking at any point of time in the future for agricultural, domestic and other sectors in any country and this is so important in GCC and MENA countries. GCC and Sub-Saharan countries are flushing with geothermal energy sources associated with active volcanic activity. Kenya is already generating 1228 million units of electricity and another 27800 units are awaiting to be developed. Similarly Ethiopia (788 million units) Eritrea ( 891 million units) and Djibouti (900 million units) have large energy resource under development. The focus for these countries should be to develop carbon low energy to generate fresh water from Red Sea and the Mediterranean sea. Both steam and electricity from geothermal sources are best suited to operate MED, MFD, MVC and RO desalination technologies, that are energy intensive and currently operated through fossil fuels and emitting large volumes of CO2. The desalinated water that can be generated sourcing geothermal energy varies from 148 million cubic metres ( R Yemen) to 1302 million cubic metres (Kenya). Small countries like Eritrea and Djibouti that can generate similar volumes may not be in a position to utilize the entire desalinated water. Such countries can supply fresh water to neighbouring countries. These developing and below poverty countries can come out of VWT and secure food and water security and increase the GDP. All the riparian countries located on the upper catchment area of the Nile are currently not utilizing their legitimate quantity of blue water due to the prevailing political situation. This will be history soon as due to growing population, there is a tremendous pressure on the Govt. to increase the utility of the Nile forcing the countries like Egypt to fall under severe water stressed status. Out of all the riparian countries located along the Nile, Egypt is on the top of development and socio economic status. By 2025 when its population crosses 106 million, Egypt cannot bank on its conventionally sources desalination plants neither the currently solar pv operated RO plants can meet the demand., Besides hydrothermal, Egypt has enormous EGS sources and by 2025 this technology will mature fully and the granites can sources about 7 billion units that to the desalination plants with low carbon emissions. Then the country will be in a position to bail out of water stressed situation and provide about 1000 m3/y of per capita fresh water to its population. Saudi Arabia has realized the importance of geothermal now…..after a series of publications on the resources potential along the western shield. In a recent statement the energy minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that by 2025 geothermal will be developed. This is good and health sigh to reduce use of oil when other energy sources along the coast is available. Since the Red Sea is highly saline (TDS 50000 ppm) high energy intensive desalination technology is needed to generate comfortable volumes of desalinated water. Desalinated water with solar source costs anywhere between 4.8 to 11 US$/1000L while geothermal source will bring down the cost by one third….a good example is the Milos island…..selling 1000L of desalinated water at 1.6 US$. Cost can be further reduced ………………….need political will and mind set…………countries need not patent such ideas.