Namibia commissions first Solar-powered desalination system

It is among the first desalination systems in the world to operate on 100% renewable energy.


Namibia has commissioned a fully solar-powered desalination system, which purifies ocean water to high-quality drinking water – a first one in the country.

The plant is part of innovative research that examines the potential of coastal agriculture and plants and crops for effective carbon binding, a joint initiative of the University of Namibia and the University of Turku in Finland.

The system is designed and delivered by a water technology company called Solar Water Solutions Ltd. It is among the first desalination systems in the world to operate on 100% renewable energy.

The seawater desalination plant was launched at the University of Namibia campus, and the keynote speech was given by H.E. Dr. Sam S Nujoma, founding President of the Republic of Namibia. In sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia stands out as the driest country and one of those hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

“The impact we hope to receive through this plant is to contribute to food security and increase energy supply while simultaneously combating and mitigating the effects of climate change. We can make Namibia green,” stated the Vice-Chancellor Professor Kenneth Matengu from UNAM.

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Situated close to the beach and installed in a container, the decentralized system produces safe water for drinking and irrigation purposes. The modular and scalable system produces 3.500 liters of water per hour from the ocean with zero energy costs and without any batteries.

The system can also be used as a hybrid with electricity or a generator if needed. The equipment removes salt, bacteria, chemicals, viruses and other impurities from the water. Using boreholes that only produce saline or brackish water, the system can desalinate seawater for human consumption and for food security as well as animal consumption.

“This life-cycle costs of this solar-powered desalination solution are more than 70% lower than conventional systems, as there are no energy costs or need for fossil fuels,” says Antti Pohjola, CEO of Solar Water Solutions.

Mr. Pohjola explains that decentralized solar-powered desalination systems could revolutionize water scarcity issues in off-grid islands and communities. Drinking and irrigation water can be produced locally in places where there is no community water infrastructure.