Online Journal of Space Communication


An escalating climate crisis is stressing the Earth's environment. One significantly affected area is the global water infrastructure that includes hydropower, flood defense, drainage, and irrigation systems. The effect of adverse climate change on freshwater systems aggravates population growth and weakens economic conditions. In the western U.S., for example, reduced water supplies plus increased demand are likely to provoke more interstate and urban-rural competition for over-allocated water resources. Seawater desalination has existed for decades as a proven technology for supplying water in coastal areas; however, desalination processes are energy intensive and this has reduced their widespread use. It is noted that California offshore oil and gas platforms already use seawater desalination to produce fresh water for platform personnel and equipment.

It is proposed that as California coastal oil and gas platforms come to the end of their productive lives, they be re-commissioned for use as large-scale fresh water production facilities. Solar arrays, mounted on the platforms, are able to provide some of the power needed for seawater desalination during the daytime. However, for efficient fresh water production, a facility must be operated 24 hours a day. The use of solar power transmitted from orbiting satellites (Solar Power Satellites - SPS) to substantially augment the solar array power generated from natural sunlight is a feasible concept. We discuss the architecture of using a SPS in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) to enable 24 hours a day operations for fresh water production through seawater desalination. Production of industrial quantities of fresh water on re-commissioned oil and gas platforms, using energy transmitted from solar power satellites, is a breakthrough concept for addressing the pressing climate, water, and economic issues of the 21st Century using space assets.



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