On the Southern High Plains, a lake modified on the principle of the salt-gradient solar pond design can provide a simple, economical, and reliable source of thermal or electrical energy or both, suitable for applications such as: 1) direct heating and cooling of space; 2) low-temperature industrial process heating, or preheating for industrial processes in oil fields, cotton ginning, and other agribusiness operations; 3) draft power for water holes for grazing livestock, farm irrigation operations, heating of livestock barns, and crop drying; 4) biomass processing for methane generation; 5) domestic uses, and so on.
An alkaline lake may be developed into an asset rather than remaining a liability by converting it into a salt-gradient solar pond through simple technology (with added tax incentives for solar energy conversion).
Moreover, the revenue generated from a salt depository site of alkaline lake basins would make it feasible to operate a salt-gradient solar pond to produce heat or electrical energy, which could be sold to adjacent users and utility grids.
-- The High Plains region in Texas and New Mexico seems to be a favorite site for salt-gradient solar ponds due to its potential for overcoming the major drawbacks in cost effectiveness of these ponds.
A cursory survey of literature (Reeves, 1970) shows that in Terry, Lynn, Gaines, Lamb, and Bailey counties of western Texas alkaline lake basins having playas with stagnant water at depth may offer promising sites for the salt-gradient solar ponds. These alkaline lake basins are randomly scattered on the flat, plateaulike topography of the High Plains.
The eco-climatological parameters of the area are favorable for operation of salt-gradient solar ponds and for concentrating the water supplies.
Certainly, any energy produced by salt-gradient solar ponds would contribute to efforts of sustaining agriculture, oil production, and related industry in the region by providing heat power for animal housing, drying crops, tractors, and pumps.