South Australia Development: Considering The Osmotic Power Generation Option
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Salinity power generation is an emerging field in the quest for renewable energy. The science behind this field of technology is based on exploiting the osmotic pressure difference between waters of dissimilar salt concentration to drive a hydroelectric generator. MIK Technology of Houston, Texas USA has developed a patent pending technology for “Hypersaline Osmotic Power Generation”, known as the “ISO Power Potential” that promotes the concept of Large Scale Renewable Energy (LSRE) from natural and manmade hypersaline water domains.
MIK Technology strongly believes that South Australia’s barren endorheic Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre could generate safe and sustainable osmotic power that would increase Australia’s current electrical power supply by twenty percent (20%). This implies doubling the current renewable sources of the country. In addition, the project will provide basin flood relief and allows for the reuse of low salinity flood water for domestic applications and developing new communities in Lake Frome basin.
In this copyrighted material, Seawater will be extended 70 km to the project site from Spencer Gulf at Port Augusta in an open canal. The massive size project requires 4 phases to implement. The first two phases are intended to generate net osmotic power from Lake Torrens at a potential of 4.0 Gigawatts, pending availability of a canal for flushing the salt in the sweater supply back to the sea.
The following wide-ranging third and fourth phases are continuation of the first two phases of the project for integrating both sections of Lake Eyre to enhance net osmotic power generation up to 10.0 Gigawatts and make use of the wasted flood and excess water in the “Channel Country” region.
The proposed project is a very large multifaceted comprehensive development of a large sector of South Australian territory of about 150,000 km2. Although the project is intended to generate power using osmotic potential, it will cause major beneficial changes to the topography of the area and the normal flow pattern of its waterways and endorheic salt lakes.
To emphasize such point, Lake Eyre is the largest dry salt lake in Australia that its only function is to accommodate runoff water generated by infrequent flooding of rivers in Lake Eyre basin. According to our proposed scenario, Lake Eyre will be permanently full of brine for power generation. Runoff water will not be allowed to enter this lake. Therefore, other means to mitigate flooding and gather wasted fresh water have to be envisaged.
Due to the complexity of topography and waterways of South Australia, It will be prudent to introduce our proposal in easy to follow logical topics. Therefore, the following will be addressed:
I. Early attempts to develop South Australia.
II. Australia’s Energy Sources.
III. South Australia Topography and Demography.
IV. South Australia Water Resources.
V. MIK Technology Hypersaline Osmotic Power Option.
VI. MIK Technology Conceptual Vision for Developing South Australia.
VII. Proposed Osmotic Power Systems and Implementation Schemes.
I. Early attempts to develop South Australia
In the last fifteen years, few mega size infrastructure projects were considered to develop South Australia and enhance its economy as well as its atmosphere. The most significant attempts to achieve such goal are the following proposals:
The first proposed project was a visionary concept envisaged by John E West in 1998 who published a small book with the title of “The Great Australian Canal: North to South”(1). This project considers splitting the country into two islands by a large open salt water channel starting in Darwin, north of the country and runs southwards to empty into Spencer Gulf in South Australia (FIG. 1).
The proposed 2,300 km transcontinental canal is navigable and provides a commercial shipping and passenger vessel route through the centre of Australia, as well as creating freshwater for irrigation and domestic use by large desalination plants. For comparison, this transcontinental canal would be 14 times the length of the Suez Canal (163 km). John West considered a secondary alternative by running a canal of 1,600 km from east of Gulf of Carpentaria through Queensland, running along the Norman and Diamantina rivers and ends also at Spencer Gulf. Both proposals rely on regular tidal regimes to flush and replenish the canals with water from the ocean. West suggested also the installation of twelve desalination plants along the canal route to convert the saltwater to fresh water for irrigation.
However, critics claimed that arid and semi-arid lands cover 70% of Australia, yet are inhabited by only 2% of the country population. This relatively low population does not justify the large cost involved in constructing the canal, which amounts to $200 billion.
Environmentalists criticized the project for its potential impact on current arid area vegetation and wildlife. Other agriculturists complained about potential effect on area flora and fauna. Yet, water management folk criticized spending the enormous cost and effort to turning the rivers into concrete lined channels and destroying riparian vegetation due to saltwater intrusion.
But it seems that the major concern has to do with the large amount of energy that would be expended. A large energy source will be required not only in the construction of the canal but also in supporting the ongoing energy consumption to desalinate water and developing new territories. It should be also noted that the mid Australia continent has no power transmission grid, which could seriously affect operability and cost of such proposal. As a result, this project has been abandoned.
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