Solar Powered Water Distillation for Maldives

Two years ago Solar Energy Systems Infrastructure, a subsidiary of Perth based Solco, began work on a solar distillery for the island of Kulhudhuffushi, in the Maldive islands, and island off the South West coast of India. The Maldives Foreign Investment Services Bureau (FISB) has granted final approvals for the venture that will ultimately provide bottled water for the people who live on the island.

SESI Managing Director Anthony Maslin said that the first Solarflow system was built in Perth and is now en route to the island of Kulhudhuffushi, where production trials will begin January. Solarflow units can produce 1000 liters of bottled water per day, which will then be home delivered to the customer’s door. The water will be sold under the Meeru Fen brand name, which means “sweet water” in Maldivian. “In the past, the two major barriers to renewable energy powered infrastructures in remote areas have been the high up-front capital cost and the difficulties ensuring the system is maintained on an ongoing basis,” Maslin said. “The unique business model of selling the water, not the infrastructure, has enabled SESI to overcome these problems and provide a viable long term solution to the Maldives water requirements.” The Solarflow System combines a reverse osmosis unit with a Sun Mill solar water pump, a Sun Tracer tracking array, solar panels and a purpose built stand with two storage tanks. The system can be erected wherever clean water is required as long as an acceptable water source is in the proximity. On successful completion of the Kulhudhuffushi trial, 20 additional commercial systems will be delivered to the Maldives. The FISB approvals cover twenty target islands so far identified as having suitable water supplies and a sustainable population base for the venture. Once established, each system represents a profitable, recurring income stream. An estimated two billion people in the developing world are without reliable water supplies and 56 percent of the developing world does not have access to the electric grid. Solco believes its system can ultimately provide piped drinking water solutions to the customer at a cost of approximately 0.2 to 0.5c per liter, according to SESI. The World Health Organization defines the daily requirement for clean water to be 60 liters per day, meaning Solco could deliver the requirement for between 12 and 30 cents per person per day.
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