Search My Blog

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Texas Colonias Renewable Energy Projects

Colonias Projects

Imagine owning a home that lacks safe, sanitary water for drinking, cooling and cleaning. Your home is in an unincorporated subdivision where unpaved roads, an inadequate sewage disposal system and untreated water – if water is even available – are the norm. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Colonias are arid, rural communities along the United States-Mexico border. Most colonias people live without basic services taken for granted in the rest of the United States. These unincorporated, isolated settlements often lack water and sewer systems, electricity, health facilities, paved roads, and safe and sanitary housing.

Monitoring the Performance of Renewable Energy Systems in Texas

Renewable energy projects have the potential to generate needed electricity in the U.S./Mexico border region without contributing to air pollution. When such projects generate electricity for homes, schools, or businesses, the energy they produce reduces that needed from traditional fossil fuel power plants, decreasing the amount of air pollutants emitted from these plants. However, accurate, reliable data on the ongoing performance of most renewable energy projects in the border region are not widely available, making accurate quantification of energy production and associated reduction of air pollutant emissions difficult, if not impossible.

To address this concern, the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) and its partner CSGServices, Inc. (CSGS) developed a Texas only web-based monitoring system to track the performance of renewable energy projects installed in the border region and all across the state.  The site includes documentation and quantification of kilowatt hours produced and air pollutant emissions reduced by each project.

Colonias Solar-Powered Water Purification Systems

Because colonias residents live far from areas where water is piped to developed areas, they are still hauling their own water or buying it off tanker trucks. To help alleviate the health issues created by lack of treated water and sewer systems, the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) partnered with several organizations to design and install solar-powered, reverse-osmosis water purification systems in Webb County and El Paso County communities.

This household stored water in six open-top 55 gallon drums. Water was obtained from a neighbor 100 yards away by filling one drum at a time and pushing it in the wheelbarrow. The family recently got a 2500 gallon tank that provides indoor running water. See Beyond the Pipes

A solar-powered reverse osmosis system will produce up to 14,000 gallons of treated, clean water over a 24-hour period.

Source: University of Texas at El Paso

Webb County Solar-Powered Water Purification

Colorado Acres, a colonia located in Webb County is the demonstration site of a solar-powered reverse-osmosis (RO) system. Colorado Acres has a water distribution site, but the increased population makes it necessary for Webb County to truck additional water in from the Laredo.

Bob J. Johnson Assoc (BJJA), Southwest PV, Arcadis Engineering and Grant Brothers Construction of Laredo completed the installation October 2, 2003. BJJA & Southwest PV completed the maintenance and operation training for Webb County's engineering staff and a representative from Rio Grande Electric Coop. SECO and BJJA monitor the system to calculate the energy savings for Webb County and the City of Laredo.

Webb County held a dedication ceremony on November 12, 2003 for a new solar-powered water purification system. County Commissioner Judith Gutierrez and Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, as well as many residents from the nearby colonias, attended the ceremony.

A ceremony is held to dedicate the solar-powered reverse-osmosis water purification system in Webb County.

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Webb County Commissioner Judith Gutierrez.

PV panels installed. Solar panels will provide power to the water purification systems, and the electrical grid will provide backup electricity.

Webb County staff are taught how the systems work, how solar energy powers the systems, and how to maintain the systems.

About the system:
The 8.1 kW system was designed to produce up to 14,000 gallons of treated water over a 24-hour period. It can easily accommodate the needs of the residents and based on an average usage per person, is enough water for 280 additional residents. The system was engineered to meet the highest quality standards for a drinking water application. The quality of water that is being produced from this system is exceptional at less than 100 ppm of total dissolved solids. The water quality is better than many larger cities. For example, this amount is less than half of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, or Laredo city water supplies and compares favorably with many bottled waters.

The equipment is installed in a stand-alone container that provides protection from the elements. The system is designed to operate 100% off the solar panels. To insure dependable potable water production, the system is also connected to the electrical grid so that when there is insufficient solar power available (night, cloudy days, etc.) the system will continue to operate effectively. A 2kW is used to power the RO motor. The remaining 900W is used to supply power to the RO unit control circuitry. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony is schedule for November 12, 2003 at 3:00 p.m.

El Paso County Solar-Powered Water Purification

University of Texas at El Paso's (UTEP) design and installation of solar water purification systems in colonias in El Paso County is taking a holistic approach to the many needs of these residents. UTEP selected Adults & Youth United Development Assoc (AYUDA) as a partner and are working with residents from a previous water project waiting list.

By taking a holistic approach, UTEP wanted this solar power demonstration to address the many needs of the residents that are often overlooked in other projects. A strong emphasis is placed on clean drinking water but there are other needs as well, so UTEP has designed a solar hand washing system and solar showers. In order to wash their hands, families must now use water stored in 55-gallon drums and then go through several inconvenient steps thus discourage hand washing or showering on a regular basis. Hueco Tanks, Dairyland, and Las Colonias residents are committed to the daily maintenance of the systems installed in their areas.

It was decided that a non-technical manual in both Spanish and English be available. The manual provides information on appropriate technologies for colonia residents and disaster areas. A working draft of the table of contents was completed. The goal of the manual is to provide information on each solar technology tested and provide data regarding cost of treatment, appropriate conditions for use, amount of water that can be treated, pros and cons of system, effectiveness to destroy pathogens and its acceptance by the community.

Solar Toilet — The Texas Two-Step
Another phase of this project is the solar toilet. The new design has been named, "The Texas Two-Step," and will use a dehydration process followed by solar pasteurization. The dry-composting toilet does not need water so it is a practical solution in areas with inadequate sewage disposal and where water is limited. Pasteurization assures a health risk-free end product as the material is uniformly heated to the pasteurization temperature long enough to destroy all of pathogenic microbes present in the compost. See Beyond the Pipes for a detailed explanation of this process.
Solar Bucket Water Heater
Five gallon plastic buckets can be used for households without a pressurized water system. Painting it black and setting it in the sun with a clear cover will heat water hotter than needed during the summer months. When ambient temperatures drop, a simple cover made of insulating foam board and plastic glazing continues to provide bathing temperature water even on a cold, sunny day. See Beyond the Pipes. Placing a black plastic bucket inside a glazed and insulated box provides a low cost solar water heater.

A black 5 gallon plastic bucket can provide hot
water at a very low cost. A camping shower
can be adapted to provide convenience
if desired.

Prototype water heater design, monitored
for water temperature change.


Beyond the Pipes
This SECO-commissioned Guide for Communities Lacking Water and Sewage Services was prepared by the Energy Center and Center for Environmental Resource Management at the University of Texas at El Paso. Beyond the Pipes is written for people working with communities lacking a safe piped water supply or good sewage disposal. The guide won’t tell you what is best for your community, but will give you some of the tools you need to help make the right decision. The term “technology” is used loosely in this guide and can mean a gadget that can be purchased, something that can be constructed or occasionally behaviors like handwashing. An evaluation (pros and cons) of many commercially available technologies is provided along with prices and where the technology can be purchased. However, after seeing some of the technologies, you may have a better idea that would fit your community’s needs.

Ten Years of Solar Distillation Application Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
This is a publication by three organizations that have been active in promoting the use and development of solar distillation on the Border: the El Paso Solar Energy Association, New Mexico State University, and SolAqua.


—Return to Top of Page—

Send comments, questions, and suggestions to website manager.

Window on State Government | Privacy and Security Policy | Accessibility Policy

Go there...


Solar Powered Water Purification Systems
Helping Haitians access safe drinking water -
solar-powered water purification systems - Google Search
solar-powered water purification systems - Google Search Steripen Adventurer Opti Uv Water Purifier with Solar Charging Case: Sports & Outdoors: Reviews, Prices & more
solar-powered water purification systems - Google Search
YouTube - Solvaten Water System
solar powered water purification systems - Google Search
Texas Colonias Renewable Energy Projects
Solar-Powered Water Treatment
WorldWater Solar
YouTube - Solapure (Solar Powered Water Purification System)
YouTube - safe drinking water from solar powered water purification systems
SECO | State Energy Conservation Office
SECO Stimulus - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

No comments: