California to Build Nation’s First Large-Scale, Carbon-Neutral Desalination Facility

Dec. 3, 2015
The plant will provide 50 mgd of freshwater from the Pacific Ocean

As California leaders head to Paris this week for the World Climate Summit (COP 21), Poseidon Water recently announced its proposed seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, Calif., will be the nation’s first large-scale desalination facility to be 100% carbon neutral.

“California has shown unprecedented leadership in addressing climate change, both by government policy and private investment,” said Scott Maloni, Poseidon vice president. “We are proud to be a part of this effort. Our desalination technology and greenhouse gas reduction plan will not only help communities become water independent and less susceptible to drought, but will do so in an energy efficient and environmentally responsible way.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the recently completed 50 million-gal-per-day (mgd) desalination facility in Carlsbad, Calif., which will officially open before the end of the December. To date, the Carlsbad facility is the nation’s largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination plant.

Poseidon’s reverse osmosis process does not emit greenhouse gases. In addition, the company’s Energy Minimization and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Plan commits to offsetting 100% of the Huntington Beach facility’s direct emissions from construction prior to the plant’s commercial operation, and then on a yearly basis Poseidon will zero out the indirect emissions associated with the purchase of electricity to operate the plant.

When complete, the Huntington Beach Desalination Project will provide Orange County with 50 mgd of fresh drinking water from the Pacific Ocean, matching the company’s Carlsbad plant as the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

The energy used to desalinate seawater comes from the electrical grid, which is fed by power plants that may create GHG emissions. Due to this, Poseidon has offered to voluntarily commit to offsetting the indirect GHG emissions associated with the project’s purchase of electricity even though it is not required by law.

The GHG Plan outlines Poseidon’s approach to avoid, reduce and mitigate emissions from the construction and operation of the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project. Because offsetting indirect GHG emissions is an ongoing process dependent on dynamic information, the plan establishes a protocol for identifying, securing, monitoring and updating measures each year to eliminate the project’s carbon footprint.

Poseidon will calculate the project’s gross indirect GHG emissions by multiplying its electricity use by the emissions factor assigned to Southern California Edison. Poseidon will then offset its indirect emissions through the purchase of Climate Reserve Tonnes and carbon offsets, and Renewable Energy Credits or the investment in projects that offset carbon emission (e.g. reforestation).

Poseidon will also implement desalination and energy recovery technologies to minimize energy consumption. One such feature is the use of a pressure exchanger-based energy recovery system that allows recovery and reuse of more than 40% of the energy associated with the reverse osmosis process. The Huntington Beach project will also recover approximately 2,100 tons of CO2 annually from the reverse osmosis purification process and reuse that CO2 during the post-treatment process.