Tesla Energy's Powerwall batteries and solar panels are being used to make saltwater suitable for drinking in Kiunga, a coastal village in Kenya. The project was an initiate of GivePower, an organization that started as the nonprofit branch of SolarCity before it was acquired by Tesla in 2016.
Prior to the installation of the Tesla batteries and solar panels, the situation in Kiunga was dire. Due to a drought that began in 2014, residents of the village eventually were forced to drink water from saltwater wells, a practice that may result in kidney failure. Children wearing clothes washed with the saltwater also developed sores on their bodies.
Considering that Kiunga is a coastal village, the best way to address the water problem would be to desalinate the available saltwater. However, desalination is energy-intensive and expensive. GivePower President Hayes Baynard noted that it became pertinent to find a way to pull water out of the ocean in a way that's both scalable and sustainable.
"So we thought the next thing would be to bring the water to them. That's where this idea came from. Could we provide the most affordable, healthy, sustainable water? And at scale?" he said.
This was when Tesla's Energy solutions came in.
GivePower opted to build an off-grid desalination system that is powered by solar panels and battery storage units. The system is entirely sustainable, and it is even equipped with two parallel pumps to ensure that the system operates at all times, even if one pump happened to fail or needed maintenance. Tesla Powerwall units store energy from the solar panels to provide power for the desalination facility at night.
The Kiunga desalination facility cost GivePower $500,000 to build, and the facility took a month to set up. Once finished, the system provided 20,000 gallons of fresh drinking water every day. That's more than enough for the coastal village, and it eventually spurred some businesses among the residents. One man started a freshwater delivery business to sell to other communities, while some women opened freshwater clothes-washing businesses.
The emergence of GivePower's Tesla battery and solar-powered desalination solutions come at the perfect time, especially since today, the World Health Organization notes that 1 in 3 people globally have no access to safe drinking water. Estimates also indicate that by 2025, things could get worse, with half of the world's population at risk of having inadequate access to drinking water by 2025.
Featured Image Credit: GivePower/YouTube