Water management planning for photovoltaic manufacturing facilities

Published: September 1, 2011

By Ralph Williams PE, Process Engineer, CH2M HILL

Various economic and political influences continue to push high-volume manufacturing of semiconductor and PV devices into relatively arid and water-constrained geographies. As the social, economic and political focus on water resources and sustainability increases daily, the need to address the supply, use and disposal of water at manufacturing facilities is growing increasingly more complex. Historically, PV manufacturing has not been considered a major water consumer so there has been little scrutiny of water management. As the costs of water and wastewater disposal spiral upwards, water resource management becomes a significantly more important factor in the capital and operating costs of PV manufacturing. This paper outlines the preparation of a water management diagram (WMD) with reference to the development of water systems for new PV manufacturing plants, and discusses some cautionary design considerations.

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