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Monitoring and control system for wastewater irrigated energy plantations

Final Report Summary - WACOSYS (Monitoring and control system for wastewater irrigated energy plantations)

A main objective of the European energy policy is the increasing exploitation of renewable energy sources. A huge potential is observed in the application of biomass, which is competitive, storable and carbon dioxide (CO2) neutral. Cultivated combustible energy crops and plantations form significant biomass sources and could be cheaply fertilised and irrigated using wastewater. Thus, the combination of biomass and wastewater technologies could provide an extreme low cost fuel for heat and power generation.

In this context, the aim of the WACOSYS project was to develop, test and optimise a monitoring and control system for wastewater irrigation of Short rotation plantations (SRPs) in order to guarantee a safe and more efficient production while ensuring the prevention of environmental pollution from the utilised water. Because of the complex project nature, the WACOSYS consortium identified several technical, environmental and social objectives that were all satisfactorily accomplished.

The project was organised in seven distinct, yet interrelated Work packages (WPs) with the following specific goals:
1. to determine the system requirements;
2. to design the prototypes;
3. to prepare the plantations;
4. to evaluate the prototypes;
5. to evaluate the entire proposal;
6. to organise and implement knowledge dissemination and exploitation activities;
7. to ensure optimal project management.

The finalised solution consisted of a combined sensor, detector and dosage system which included a monitoring, control and distribution unit to enable the dosing and distribution of the wastewater in accordance to the plantations demands, while observing critical loads in the effluent to avoid environmental pollution. This could enhance the competitiveness of SRP produced biomass against other fuels and combustibles and ensure the compliance of the innovations with European and national environmental legislation. The performance of the system was evaluated through a series of practical and commercial applications within existing SRPs with different clones, i.e. willows and poplars, under varying climatic conditions. The assessment results were disseminated via a series of actions, including participation in conferences and seminars, preparation and distribution of informative documentation and construction and maintenance of a project dedicated website.