Technoeconomic analysis of solar thermal desalination

Yanjie Zheng, Kelsey B. Hatzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Desalination systems are necessary in order to meet growing demands for freshwater. Coupling desalination systems with solar energy technologies is one possible route for eliminating the need for fossil fuel energy sources. Herein, we build a technoeconomic model that assesses the viability of coupling solar collectors with thermal desalination systems. The model considers the impacts of system lifetime and scale, unit price and performance parameters for each subsystems, local market and environmental factors of plant site on specific discounted water production costs and payback period. This approach eliminates technical and geographic constraints. The technoeconomic model attempts to predict the economics of a solar multi-stage flash distillation system. The specific discounted water production cost for a plant producing 1000 m3/day is $0.97/m3 if the solar collector unit cost is $100/m2 and operates at 40% efficiency. According to market and environmental factors in seven coastal cities in the United States, the most economically feasible geographic location for a solar desalination plant is Miami, Florida.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114168
StatePublished - Jan 15 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Desalination
  • Economic analysis
  • Separations
  • Solar desalination
  • Solar energy


Dive into the research topics of 'Technoeconomic analysis of solar thermal desalination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this