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Innovative system for medium scale water desalination 100% powered by renewable energies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - W2W - Wind and Solar (Innovative system for medium scale water desalination 100% powered by renewable energies)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2017-09-30

Water scarcity is probably the biggest challenge of the 21st century. Nowadays and according to the United Nations, it affects more than 40 percent of the global population, and at the current consumption rate, by 2025, almost two-thirds of the population will face water shortages. Climatic change and trends on increasing population will worsen the situation. Although water resources vary widely across Europe, one third of European countries have relatively low availability of water, which is especially dramatic for Southern Europe but is also affecting other northern countries, such as Belgium, Denmark and UK.
Seawater is an extremely valuable water source. Indeed, some countries heavily rely on water desalination, such as Saudi Arabia or Israel. Despite the major technical advances, conventional water desalination techniques are extremely energy demanding processes. The large amount of energy required for seawater desalination only serves to reinforce the problem. On one hand, greenhouse gases released contribute to climate change and, on the other, the generation of energy itself is a water consuming process.
We are Rainmaker, a Dutch company focused on sustainable and decentralised technologies to produce clean water. We have developed, water to water, W2W-Wind and Solar, an innovative technology conceived to confront water crisis by providing a medium-scale system for water desalination, fully powered by renewable energies. With a single unit of W2W, we can provide enough water for 800 people. Water is locally produced and with no need of transportation.
During the SME-Instrument phase 1 execution, we have evaluated the resources required to bring W2W to market, as well as assessed the opportunities and barriers that will come to the path.
The financial support received by the SME-Instrument program has allowed us to evaluate the viability of W2W project from different perspectives. Technically, some improvements have been carried out in the membrane distillation system, increasing the efficiency and safety of the process.
The characteristics of the first W2W industrial prototype have been defined by the technicians of Rainmaker. We have identified the need of launching a versatile product, so W2W units will be designed to be efficiently powered by wind, solar, grid, diesel generator or a hybrid system.
Targeted regions have been carefully selected: coastal and islands communities in the Mediterranean Basin are ideal locations for W2W technology.
In addition, W2W is a useful tool for water management in industry, since it can be used for waste water decontamination.
A timeline for commercialisation has been set. It includes technology validation, consolidation in the European market and expansion to other markets with high potential, such as MENA region.
There is a lack of specific regulation addressed to renewable energy-driven desalination plants, and energy and water framework at European level are not interlinked. This fact entails the necessity of addressing each individual case, in order to receive the approval of regional and local authorities.
Finally, we have estimated the allocation of resources that will be required to bring W2W to market by 2020. A 24-month working plan has been established, including the activities leading to a successful market launch.
W2W will be contributing to meet water demands by a sustainable way, without increasing water resources depletion and with the associated benefits of renewable energies. W2W is a decentralized solution, that, contrary to the large-scale desalination plants, is a feasible option that reduces up-front investment and installation times.
W2W can be used in coastal and island areas, for irrigation activities or as an extra water supply for tourists’ destinations, where water needs intensively increase during the dry season.
Even municipalities of countries with abundant rainfalls will benefit from W2W, since it has been also devised for water reuse purposes. Increasing population and intensive industrial activity is already forcing municipal authorities and industrial sectors to implement wastewater reuse technologies leading to the responsible and sustainable use of available water.
Besides, W2W is a portable unit that can be installed/uninstalled within 1-2 weeks. This feature makes it ideal for being used also in disaster relief and emergency response operations, where access to drinking water is a critical factor and access electricity is normally unlikely.
W2W will also be contributing to the growth, consolidation and expansion of Rainmaker. By 2024, we want to put on the market around 250 units of W2W, that will require the direct creation of new job positions in our company, to absorb the technical workload and cover targeted marketing regions.
W2W-Wind and Solar Unit