Solar Energy Technology for Waste Water Treatment, Electricity Generation, and Indoor Hydroponic Farming
solar energy technology for waste water treatment, electricity generation and indoor hydroponics farming remains a viable bridge to achieving sustainability in all the spheres of human life since it has an abating potential of over 2.5 MtCO2e annually and when combined with hydroponic farming it reaches over 18365.75 tCO2e.
How it works
It uses the customized photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector by combining solar cells that converts the solar radiations into electricity and solar thermal collectors that captures the remaining heat energy and removes the waste heat which are conducted to the absorber plate. This heat energy conducted to the conductive stainless steel windings beneath the absorber plate is transmitted through the stainless steel rod and used to heat the waste water.
The treated and heated water then evaporates to the cooler areas up the frame as impurities remain in the inner trough, condenses, accumulates into the water droplets.The purified water is allowed to run into the distillation channel from which it is collected in the storage tank for use in the hydroponic farm.
In effect, it offers opportunity that contributes to a number of sustainable development goals which include but are not limited to; goal (2) of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture; goal (3) of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages; goal (6) of ensuring availability and sustainability management of water and sanitation; goal (7) of ensuring accessibility to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; goal (8) of promoting sustained ,inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment and decent work for all; goal (13) of taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy and lastly; goal (14) of conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
The climate Colab proposals to be integrated include the following;
- Phasing out extraction of carbon based fuels from the public land.
- Building a national high voltage direct current power grid to enable renewable energy to get to the market.
- Reducing methane emissions while enhancing rice farmers’ resilience to climate change.
- Deploying micro-grids to the developing world using a franchise business model based on the open source hardware to reduce cost.
What actions do you propose?
The integrated proposal seeks to combine four climate Colab proposals with the proposal on solar energy technology for waste water treatment, electricity generation and indoor hydroponic farming with the view of effectively minimizing the potential trade-offs while achieving multiple global goals.
First and foremost, there is need to suspend all in-process and planned leasing of coal and other fossil based fuels on public lands while imposing the social cost of carbon as the minimum extraction fee. The increase in price that would occur for carbon-based fuels generally would then tend to improve the competitive position of the renewables and other non-carbon based fuels in the energy market. As such, the efforts to increase energy efficiency, reduce the electricity demand while increasing its supply by building a national high voltage direct current power grid to enable renewable energy get to the market could be financed with the fees being charged for extraction of fossil fuels from the public lands.
In so doing, it will aid in achieving global goal (7) of having access to affordable clean energy by ensuring that appropriate populations living far off the grid are supplied with electricity and global goal (13) of taking urgent actions to combat climate as the policy will moderate future climate change by reducing the fossil fuels use thus stabilizing the weather systems and the climate patterns. Additionally, the public lands could also be reused for reforestation and afforestation to plant trees that could aid in terrestrial carbon sequestration.
Secondly, deployment of the micro-grids to the developing world using a franchise business model based on the open source hardware on the cost reduction is viable as it is integrated with the solar energy technology on the operationability, maintenance and high voltage direct current on the supply side. Renewable energy technologies such as the innovation on solar energy technology, often fall into disuse due to lack of trained personnel to maintain them. Similarly, the sale of these technologies is often low because of low purchasing power as their initial capital is high relative to what the customers’ can afford forcing them into debt. As a result, a franchise business model in which a local entrepreneur acquires training and standardized technology from a franchisor and sells the resulting technology or its products like clean water, electricity to the community makes it affordable and cost effective since the major components of this innovation that would drive the costs high will be lowered.
On a large scale, more modular units of solar energy technology can be combined and the energy generated from it tapped into a central pool from which the high voltage direct current connected at its end, channels the energy to a central micro grid to supply clean energy devoid of emissions to the customers in areas with demand too small to justify the extension of the grid. This will help in ensuring there is access to clean energy to all and no emissions to the atmosphere.
Consequently, the proposal on the solar energy technology aids in reducing the methane emissions from rice to ensure farmers’ resilience to climate change through hydroponic farming. After the treatment of waste water, the clean water is mixed with the nutrients and the slightly sloping film of solution is channeled to trickle over the roots of the rice or the roots the rice is placed in an inert perlite and its roots periodically flooded with solution. The indoor hydroponic farming system replaces the system of rice intensification ensuring no aerobic conditions to produce and emit methane gas into the atmosphere thereby lowering the impacts of global climate patterns.
On integrating solar energy technology with the elimination of methane emissions from indoor hydroponic rice farming, the technology contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere; accessibility of clean and adequate water for domestic purposes; accessibility to clean and sustainable modern energy for all; the hydroponic farming will ensure that sustainable agriculture practices are adhered to thus providing adequate food supply to the increasing population while having access to clean water supply will aid in preventing waterborne diseases to make the realization of having a healthy and productive life as envisioned in the global goal (2) a reality.
Moreover, solar energy technology will permit settlement in sparsely populated locations thus relieving population pressures from the urban and semi-urban areas. This is due its ability to provide reliable energy supply and use, adequate clean and treated water while supporting animal husbandry and food production in areas with inadequate and unreliable supply of water and populations living far from the existing grid with the energy demand too small to justify the fixed cost of extending the grid.
Equally important is the need of this proposal to lower the amount of concentration of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere. In doing so, it lowers the absorption of carbon (IV) oxide by the sea water, causing the ocean to be less acidic, with potentially less disruptive effects on the marine planktons and coral reefs while eliminating the acidic nature of the water will contribute to eradicating malnutrition by increasing the availability marine resources for food. As a result, this integrated proposal will aid in not only achieving global goals of zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, but also taking urgent actions to combat climate change and sustainably conserving and using the ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
The Effectiveness at minimizing the Potential Trade-offs in achieving the multiple sustainable development goals.
The reasons why combining these proposals will be effective in minimizing the potential trade-offs between achieving the global goals include the following below;
- The combined proposals realize that achieving multiple sustainable development goals is about integration and long term planning and that the actions undertaken herewith, take into considerations the potential impact on society, the environment and economy while keeping in mind their impacts will be experienced elsewhere. As such, the interconnected, or interdependent nature of the actions to be taken call for going beyond borders, geographical and institutions to coordinate strategies and make well informed decisions. This is necessitated by the fact that world’s most pressing issues and challenges are rarely contained within the predefined jurisdictions and intelligent solutions require cooperation as part of the decision making process.
- Secondly, the actions of the combined proposals align with the thinking that human actions must undergo a temporal paradigm shift as there is a need to consider the impact of a given choice beyond the short term. For example, if poorly managed logging in the interest of immediate profit leads to the depletion of forest then the overall result is a substantial loss; loss of income over the long term, loss of biodiversity and finally loss of carbon sequestration capacity to absorb carbon (IV) oxide.
As a result, using this simple approach contributes to the goal of understanding the insights about the scope and magnitude of trade-offs between social, economic and the environmental aspects of achieving the multi-dimensional nature of sustainable development goals.
De-emphasization of the Global Goals as a result of Implementing the Integrated Proposal
Equally important is the need to realize that in order to achieve all the 17 sustainable development goals, there is need to look beyond the sector policy issues and assess its systematic wide impacts. The integration of these proposals not only show that it is possible to avoid the trade-offs, but also embrace and adopt innovative technologies and solutions that will bring the humanity closer to achieving all the global goals.
Consequently, this integrated proposal has the potential to reduce the total pressure on the system and trade-offs without deemphasizing the global goals while creating strong synergies that will increase the solution space for achieving the multiple sustainable development goals.
This project will be rolled out in collaboration with the relevant government agencies to ensure its success. The implementation process will include the following;
Effective public awareness and promotion programs; involve disseminating the technological innovation information that is prepared based on the market surveys and studies with the aim of ensuring that the concept, benefits and the required operating conditions are made clear to the end users through the media strategies.
Capacity building training; various stakeholders will be trained on the technical, maintenance and the user friendliness of the technology so as to increase their technical know-how on its usability and operationability.
Determining Performance (Tests); the performance of the technology on water treatment and electricity generation will be carried out. The physical tests will indicate the properties detectable by the senses as the properties looked into will include water color, turbidity, odor and taste while the chemical tests will determine the amount of mineral and organic properties that affects the water quality. This will include looking into the water PH, hardness, presence of selected group of chemical parameters and biocides. The levels of the methane will also be monitored over time to ascertain its greenhouse gas emissions abating potential.
Monitoring and Evaluation; further test runs and experiments will be conducted coupled with the data analysis and affirmation of the results. This will be undertaken in collaboration with the various government agencies at designated demonstration sites to help various stakeholders see and learn from the real field situation. This will create a sustained impact and ensure faster uptake of the innovative solution.
Scaling up; this will involve increasing the production of treated waste water in its various forms of domestic, industrial and even the storm water to reach the already high demand in the market while generating the electricity and fostering indoor hydroponic farming to ensure there is enough food.
The project will be launched with the rolling out of awareness creation at the initial phase that will take approximately 10 months with the potential scale up in the eleventh month and thereafter starts full operation on its implementation.
The project will take less than a year on implementation to start achieving the multiple global goals. This will eradicate the delay associated with the climate change and sustainability initiatives to eventually make the adaptation and mitigation strategies much easier and faster.
Who will take these actions and which types of actors are involved?
As the author I will help in coordinating the implementation of the project.
- Public; it will play a role in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the adaptation interventions in order to enhance their adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change pattern shocks.
- Public Benefit Organizations; the non- governmental organizations, civil society groups and faith based organizations will play a role in the areas of education, training and public awareness creation related to the innovation and its impacts on the climate. As such, it will advocate for the key socio-economic issues in relation to the innovation.
- Academic and Research Institutions; this group of actors will play a role in building the technology adaptive capacity while providing evidence for knowledge based decision making by stakeholders. This will be done through research conducted on different aspects of this innovation and its relationship to climate change and resilience while providing a mix of adaptation actions in order to avoid maladaptation.
- Media; the media will be involved in the dissemination of this technology and disseminating its progress against key indicators measuring its adaptive and mitigating capacity.
- Private sector; it will aid in mobilizing substantial amounts of investments and funding to cover the whole innovation value-chain, from the research and development to its deployment as a mature innovative technology.
- The National Government; the government through its ministry of energy and agriculture will work in collaboration to develop robust competition policies and frameworks that will strengthen the existing energy market mechanisms to deliver breakthrough innovations like solar energy technology while giving innovators the freedom to devise the most effective solutions to world’s most pressing issues.
The enabling actions that will support this innovation in its transition to a low carbon climate resilient development project pathway include the following;
- Regulatory and policy frameworks that will amend sectorial laws to facilitate priority actions and stand-alone climate change laws to regulate, conduct and establish sanctions to ensure compliance while promoting coherence and crosscutting actions.
- Financing implementation that will undertake targeted interventions to help overcome weakness in climate investments and establish climate fund as primary vehicle for receiving and disbursing international climate finance meant for the renewable energy technologies. As such, it will aid in leveraging public and private sources while improving access to carbon finance.
- Knowledge management and capacity that will disseminate renewable energy technology products to potential beneficiaries, especially the vulnerable in the society through public awareness and communication to improve capacity to face new challenges by climate patterns while improving knowledge that works for people at national and local levels including the indigenous knowledge.
Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?
The implementation of this innovative technology and its actions will be undertaken in Kenya with a population of about 48.5 million people.The project at pilot phase, will be demonstrated and carried out in seven large centrally managed irrigation rice schemes namely Mwea Taberre, Hola, Perkerra, West Kano, Bunyala and Ahero covering a total area of about 20200 hectares. It will also be carried out in the major urban centers of Kenya namely, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi, Machakos and the semi-arid and arid areas of Kenya in the former Eastern and North Eastern provinces. These areas are spread across the country with the demand justifying pilot tests to be carried out.
Potential Scale up of the actions within and outside the other regions;
The annual growth in rice consumption Kenya is around 12%. With the annual production of about 50000 metric tons against the demand of about 300000 metric tons, Kenya is forced to import 88% of the to cover the deficit as it’s the third staple food after maize and wheat. The same scenario is witnessed in other regions thus solar energy technology for waste water treatment, electricity generation and indoor rice hydroponic farming has a potential for scale up since it comes at a time when global society is seeking better ways of improving rice production as demand increases with the rising population without increasing the carbon footprint.
Secondly, the rural electrification is very poor with only 0.94% connected in 2002 in most of the Sub Saharan African countries. However, between 1993 and 2001, the number of households increased significantly while the uptake of the rural grid connectivity remained slow. Hence, the rate of grid based rural electrification is far below the rate of increase in potential customers despite the levy on electricity bills funding it. As such, this innovation has the potential to be scaled up and make up for the inadequate grid based rural electrical connection and ensure there is access to modern and clean energy to all.
Additionally, with the population of about 48.5 million people,41% of Kenyan’s still rely on unimproved water sources such as wells and shallow ponds while 59% use the unimproved sanitation solutions. These challenges are especially evident in the rural areas and urban slums. Similarly, 9 out of every 55 public water service providers in Kenya supply unreliable continuous water supply, leaving the rest of the people to find their own ways of searching for appropriate solutions to this basic human need. The water crisis remains a critical issue in Kenya as in other regions of the world. This innovative technology has the potential to scale up the reach of this precious commodity to everyone by treating the various types of waste water which is readily available.
In addition, specify the countries where these actions will be taken.
What impact will these actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
On implementation of this integrated proposal, the 20200 hectares of rice when planted under the indoor hydroponic farming technique, 18363 tCO2eq will be abated annually. After a year, over 3635.874 tCO2eq methane will be reduced leading to reduced global warming.
Additionally, solar energy technology being an off-grid electricity generation system that is important for communities where connection to the grid is not economically and physically viable, has an abatement potential in the electricity generation sector at approximately 2.5 MtCO2e annually.
When fully scaled up, its abating potential is about 20% to 25% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions of 45261 MtCO2e
What are the most innovative aspects and main strengths of this approach?
- Indoor hydroponic farming takes up 50% less land thereby fostering terrestrial carbon sequestration.
- It also reduces the level of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon(iv)oxide as such,shrinking the carbon footprint.
- It can b used for water purification,packaged into bottles sold to refill lead acid batteries,mixed with the anti-freeze and sold to the motor vehicles or even sell the water to water vendors as such creating more self employment opportunities.
- It creates additional channels of food production with high yields and more cycles of harvest thereby fostering food security through sustainable agriculture.
- It also provides a majority of the buildings requirements of clean and reliable water and affordable electricity thus improving the quality of life.
- It aids in offsetting a significant proportion of foreign exchange used for importing oil to generate electricity while eliminating monthly utility bills.
- Also permits settlement in arid areas
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
The seed capital required for this project is about US $ 159000 when it’s a stand-alone. This include the cost of setting up the indoor hydroponic farm, complete set of the solar energy technology, its maintenance costs, installation costs and the labor required for the whole project. However, when the project is undertaken in its modular units for large scale purposes so that the electrical surplus is tapped into the national grid using smart meters, the estimate costs would increase with a margin of between 5% to 10% because of the additional equipment needed. This will increase the project costs to about US $ 174 900.
Equally important, the project will be sustainable since it will be financed by the sale of the carbon credits. It is expected that with the sale of carbon credits at a rate of US $ 13.80 per ton of carbon (IV) oxide emitted (according to the California cap-and-trade program energy market), annually the project will generate an estimate of about US $ 253446.66. With an annual revenue of about US $ 253446.66, the expenses incurred in setting up the project including the labor and maintenance at US $ 159000 when it’s a stand-alone system, leaves a net income and surplus of US $ 94446.66, a substantial amount of money that can be re-invested into the project to aid in financing and making it sustainable. Therefore, the project only needs funding for first year and reduced capital injection in second year, thereafter it will finance itself from its financial proceedings and the profits accrued used to finance the expansion of the project into the other areas.
Moreover, additional income will be generated from the sale of the rice in the indoor hydroponic farm. This technology guarantees more yields with three harvest seasons of rice from the farm annually and as such the increased production will translate to more income. This will double the income generated from the project making it a lucrative venture.
The drawbacks include the following below;
- The major challenge lies in funding to develop models that can commercialize this technological innovation to the target and potential customers at justified and affordable prices while ensuring that it remains sustainable.
- Assembly of the customized photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector since it’s one of the major component of the solar energy technology.
This project strongly maximizes the synergies between the integrated proposals while minimizing the various trade-offs that can occur when achieving a broad range of sustainable development goals. In effect, it reduces the total pressure on the system while eliminating various trade-offs without de-emphasizing the global goals to increase the solution space for achieving the multiple sustainable development goals.
About the Authors
Raymond Yogo is a graduate of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Renewable Energy Technology and Management, First Class Honors. He is a budding renewable energy technologist with a passion for developing sustainable energy innovations that aim to solve the world’s most pressing issues in energy, water, food security and climate change. He is a citizen of Kenya and currently resides in Kenya. He is the sole author of the proposal and innovator of the solar energy technology for waste water treatment, electricity generation and indoor hydroponic farming.
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