Aussie firms extract both clean energy and drinking water from ocean

Among our many environmental problems, two of the most vexing are dwindling freshwater supplies and a dearth of clean energy. Now two Australian firms think they’ve hit on a way to tackle both at once: a desalination plant that could convert saltwater to freshwater, using only the power supplied by the ocean’s waves, and produce surplus power to boot — all without fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, or waste. The process can be run safely just offshore, say the companies, where the resulting salty concentrate can simply be released back into the ocean and the freshwater piped to land. Based on results from a prototype operating south of Sydney, the firms estimate their plants could generate electricity for as low as five cents per kilowatt hour, a rate competitive with coal-fueled power, while costing a relatively modest $1.6 million to build. G’day indeed, mates.