Installation and Operation
Many global geographic areas have the necessary ingredients for a successful installation. They are sunshine, a source of water ranging in salinities up past ocean water -- possibly 10%, suitable land and soil for ponds, and a disposal means for the salts concentrated in the form of brine as shown in the “Inputs&Outputs”. In areas with surplus fresh water, even the fresh water can be the source. The justification is a need for power and/or water.
Consideration needs to be given to the initial source of brine for startup. If the installation site is fortunate (but unlikely) to have a nearby salt mine, the brine source is easy. If not, other methods of producing the brine are possible.
If the source is ocean water (or similar salinity lake water), the pond can be constructed early and filled. In the time period during plant construction, natural evaporation from the pond will render down and concentrate the salts to produce the bottom brine layer. When the plant is installed, the pond can then be flooded with the less saline source water to produce the top layer and thus begin the solar heating.
If the source is low saline brackish water, the brine can be produced at the site. Two methods are possible. The first is to construct the pond early and install an RO unit where the RO waste is discharged into the pond. Natural evaporation in the pond can then concentrate the waste into the needed brine. The second method is to make an adjacent large shallow evaporation pond to concentrate and produce the brine. The choice is site specific. Also, if more plant/ponds are to be constructed, the first plant/pond can become the brine source, or the RO unit can be relocated.
The plant/pond has operating characteristics similar to a small hydroelectric plant. The thermal storage of the pond allows stable 24 hours per day plant operation even on cloudy days. The seasonal summer/winter water and power output swing depends on latitude. The plant can be controlled remotely for base load operation or varied for peaking. In a remote stand-alone location, governor control can maintain the frequency. For power demand forecasting, sensors can provide the operators with the currently available pond thermal capacity.