The technology behind Kenya’s first solar station that transforms salt water to safe drinking water

GivePower, the Californian NGO, is using technological advances to provide safe water for the poorest of people

GivePower Foundation
The GivePower Foundation is a branch of Tesla subsidiary Solar City. Image: GivePower via Facebook

Safe water

Clean drinking water is essential to survival. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 780 million people worldwide do not have access to it.

The GivePower Foundation was established in 2013 and is a non-profit branch of Solar City. This is a subsidiary of tech giant Tesla.

GivePower’s team of engineers and developers work to ‘design, build and deploy renewable energy systems that provide food, water, and light to those who need it most.’

The Founder and President of GivePower, Hayes Barnard, says:

Humanity needs to take swift action to address the increasingly severe global water crisis that faces the developing world. With our background in off-grid clean energy, GivePower can immediately help by deploying solar water farm solutions to save lives in areas throughout the world that suffer from prolonged water scarcity.

Solar power

GivePower has worked to find a solution to transform salt water into clean drinking supplies.

Their solar-powered system has been tested in the small settlement of Kiunga in Kenya. The process desalinates the water and can create 70,000 litres per day. That is enough water for 35,000 people.

Desalination is a process by which water is forced through a membrane to remove harmful salts and minerals. However, the challenge is preserving essential minerals in balanced volumes.

To produce safe drinking water from raw seawater, until now, has required either a huge amount of energy or high levels of chemicals. These options are either too expensive to use on a mass scale, or impossible to replicate in rural communities.

GivePower has found a solution in creating solar water farms. These use solar panels producing 50 kW of energy which is stored in Tesla batteries. Water pumps work around the clock to keep the cycle moving.

Tesla is, of course, no stranger to providing innovative solar energy and storage solutions. Whilst home solutions haven’t really taken off, this technology is clearly of great use in other applications.


As with any initiative, the question here is sustainability.

If every solar water farm can produce fresh water daily for 35,000 people, this could be a viable solution. 780 million people is a devastating number and 10% of the 7.7 billion world population.

Around 20,000 solar water farms around the world could solve the problem. The logistics, however, are not that simple. Not every community is close enough to a seawater source to benefit. It does though seem an initiative with a feasible production rate to make a big dent in those figures.

GivePower solar water farm
The first GivePower solar water farm in Kenya. Image: GivePower

Worldwide safe water

GivePower has now provided solar grids in 2,650 locations and is raising financing to install more solar water farms. They supply clean drinking water in 17 countries to schools, hospitals, and emergency services.

The Bank of America is one funder supporting the Foundation. In 2018 they donated $250,000. This brings the total funds donated to $1.75 million.

I am sure the people of Kiunga will agree that this is the very best use of technology. Harnessing the power of Tesla batteries to store solar energy to provide clean water for the people who need it most.

Abundary has reached out to GivePower for comment. In the meantime, what do you think of this new technology? Could this realistically provide clean water worldwide?

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January 19, 2020 12:21 am

Oddly written
So there are 2 1/2 systems. ? (2.65)

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