WASHINGTON — In the coming decades, climate change will make it harder for some regions of the country to get their water and other supplies, a new study shows.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say they found that a lack of water-borne solar-powered equipment has led to a system that’s not as reliable as it should be.
“We can expect to see more of these systems being in the middle of our landscapes, in our oceans and in our lakes,” said David Kincaid, the study’s lead author.
The problem is that those systems, which are built to meet a specific need, can’t provide the kind of reliability they were designed to provide, he said.
“That’s why it’s really important to get some of these solutions out there now.”
The study was published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It found that there’s a growing trend of solar-driven systems in the U.S. that fail to meet basic water-supply requirements.
“There’s a lot of water to be delivered to the grid, but it’s a very small portion of that water,” said study lead author Dr. John M. Dovidio, a professor in the Department of Physics at UNC-Chaps.
“It’s a bit like an oil well, it’s very complicated, and you have to drill to get to it.
There’s a good deal of waste water, but you don’t want to pump it into the wellhead, because then you’re only pumping it in the wrong direction.”
In the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of solar water pumps and traditional water systems.
The solar water systems use mirrors and batteries to collect water and then send it through a solar panel, which can send electricity to a water pump.
Water pumps can run on a wide range of technologies, including batteries and solar panels.
But the system built by the authors was the most robust of the three, and it could provide enough water to meet about 30% of the nation’s water needs.
“The efficiency of the solar system was very high, and that’s a pretty good indicator that we’ve made good progress,” said Dovideaux.
“The next generation of solar systems will be more efficient and can be better able to deliver water to the grids.”
“That makes a huge difference because we don’t have a lot in the way of water infrastructure in this country,” he added.
The authors said it’s critical to continue to improve solar water technology because it can help people and businesses avoid a future of water scarcity.
“If we want to be able to meet our water needs, we need to improve our systems,” Dovideso said.
The study also found that more and more people are adopting solar-based water systems, though it doesn’t indicate whether those people are in need of water.
In fact, a recent study found that most Americans have no plans to use solar water at all.
“It’s not clear to me that the overall trend of adopting these technologies is changing,” said Margo P. Kapp, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UNC.
“We have solar water, and we have water powered water systems and solar water.
And we’re seeing more and less use of solar power.
I’m not sure how it relates to that.”