Is This Solar-Powered Structure the Answer to California’s Water Crisis?
California has a host of serious issues, ranging from budget deficits to earthquakes. Yet among the more critical concerns is the state’s ever-growing water crisis. Chief among those responding to this dilemma is the Land Art Generator Initiative, whose motto says it all: “Renewable energy can be beautiful.” The initiative hosts a biannual competition, this year focusing on harnessing clean energy to ameliorate Southern California’s drought plight. Though the winners of the 2016 competition will not be announced until October, one design is already making waves: the Pipe by Khalili Engineers, an elegant and low-impact means of harnessing the Pacific Ocean into safe drinking water. Using a solar-powered method of desalinization, the floating tube was designed to provide drinkable water to the city’s primary water grid. What’s more, the Pipe ensures the safe reintroduction of brine deposits back into the ocean by passing them through a series of thermal baths. Meant to encourage interaction with Santa Monica residents, the resulting salt baths would be available for public use. But perhaps most important, numbers back up the design: According to Khalili, one tube is estimated to be able to produce 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water a year. Scaled across the California coast (which stretches some 840 miles), the Pipe could make a serious impact if built.
Oftentimes the most vocal critics of environmental infrastructure are those wrapped up in aesthetic concerns. This makes the Pipe all the more appealing, as the project is more dazzling on the horizon in comparison to other, more conventional modes of renewable energy such as the unsightliness of oceanic wind turbines.