The World is drifting closer to a future of unparalleled water resource management challenges. Rising global population, agriculture production, and energy demand have driven a projected increase in annual global water demand to an estimated 6,000 km3 by 2050, accounting for approximately 11% of the world’s annual renewable water resources 1–5. Accordingly, water stress is expected to double in the next 30 years, leading to disrupted societies, a change in the global landscape, and a clear threat to national security 6–7. On top of this, reliance on traditional carbon-based energy, ∼86% of the global mix in 2018, has helped produce the World’s current climate crisis 8. Failure to decarbonize our continuously increasing energy production will continue to stress humans and critical systems 6.
Water desalination, removing salt from water, and concentrated solar power (CSP) systems offer partial solutions to the world’s water and energy resource issues, respectively. However, seawater desalination is currently too expensive, water and energy inefficient, and carbon intense 9–10. Likewise, CSP systems are currently expensive, suffer in part from solar intermittency, and consume immense amounts of cooling water 11–12. This paper aims to combat the disadvantages of desalination and CSP systems by investigating the opportunity for integrating these. Specifically, a techno-economic analysis it performed to estimate the efficacy of various integration approaches. Among these, the evaluated case study identified the lowest cost system resulting from the integration of a thermal desalination plant which is thermally driven by a CSP plant’s waste heat and is electrically driven by excess power generated by augmenting the design output of the same CSP plant.