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Demonstration of water loops with innovative regenerative business models for the Mediterranean region

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HYDROUSA (Demonstration of water loops with innovative regenerative business models for the Mediterranean region)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

Water management in the Mediterranean islands is currently fragmented and faces several barriers to close water loops and contribute towards the environmental and economic development of these regions. Mediterranean islands and coastal areas, in particular, experience significant challenges in terms of water management and conservation. Water reserves are scarce and irregularly distributed, while the high touristic activities during the summer months place additional stress on the limited water reserves, both in terms of quantity and quality.

To overcome these challenges, the 12 million € Horizon2020 project – HYDROUSA aims to provide an innovative, circular water management approach for Mediterranean islands and coastal areas to close the water loops and boost their agricultural and energy profile. HYDROUSA goes beyond the current water management practices by adopting regenerative nature-based and biomimicry solutions, characterized by low energy and carbon footprint to valorise non-conventional water sources and recover valuable products and resources. HYDROUSA implements a combination of traditional and modern techniques to revolutionize the water value chain by closing the interrelated water, food and energy loops to restore, regenerate and optimise the natural and social water cycles. The HYDROUSA concept is materialised in six demonstration sites at full scale in three Mediterranean islands (Lesbos, Mykonos, and Tinos). Furthermore, the transferability of HYDROUSA solutions is assessed in 28 early adopter cases in Mediterranean coastal areas, islands and at water-stressed rural or peri-urban non-Mediterranean areas. The additional services provided with the innovative approaches will lead to a win-win-win situation for the economy, the environment, and the community. Comprehensive business models are being developed to demonstrate the economic viability of the aforementioned technologies and services as well as the resulting economic benefits from the recovered materials and energy. HYDROUSA does not only develop and demonstrate innovative water services, but also revolutionise the water value chains in Mediterranean areas from water use up to sewage treatment and reuse. By these means, it will change the natural and social water cycles by valorising non-conventional water resources, which are currently not being exploited.
HYDROUSA is currently in its operational phase. During the first reporting period, the Consortium worked intensively to prepare, engineer, design/co-design and integrate the most appropriate solutions for the HYDROUSA demonstration systems, while during the second reporting period the construction/implementation activities were finalized and all HYDROs commenced operation. The solutions were prepared with the involvement of the local stakeholders who impacted on the design procedure through participation in a series of co-creation events. Furthermore, all the agricultural sites have been implemented and are being routinely monitored. Technical tours were implemented to study each site in terms of location, weather conditions, accessibility to the public and protection. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been integrated in all HYDRO systems to enable effective monitoring and control of the processes. Industrial and low-cost online probes have been installed to support the effective evaluation of all processes, while the collected data are being analysed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques for ensuring precision, reliability, and integrity of the results. User requirements surveys were conducted in the test sites regarding the monitoring of the HYDROUSA demonstration sites using ICT. In addition, critical analyses, reviews and “fitness check” of relevant EU directives, on-going policy initiatives, regulatory and financing frameworks have been carried out in order to better steer and support the implementation, exploitation and replication of the HYDROUSA solutions. Twenty-eight replication sites have been identified (12 in Europe, 6 in Middle East and North Africa and 10 in Australia, Africa and America) so far and replicability and feasibility studies have started in many cases.
All HYDROUSA solutions and services are being evaluated with respect to their technical, economic, environmental and social sustainability within the water-energy-food-employment nexus, capturing the extended supply chains. Process and material/resource mapping of all HYDRO solutions and data collection process has started. The nexus models have been developed for most of the HYDRO systems, as well as the cost and revenue models. A holistic circularity assessment framework has been developed (i.e. Multi-Sectoral Circularity Assessment – MSWCA), which assesses circularity and sustainability of the complex water systems. Finally, marketing and exploitation activities focused on defining the exploitation scenarios along the 6 HYDRO demonstrators. So far, the development of 6 integrated 3-layer business models (canvas) was finalised. Moreover, a first version of the market size was carried out. Following the successful community and stakeholder engagement activities which took place during the first reporting period through workshops, interviews, meetings, surveys and focus group discussions and other co-creation events, important activities also took place during the second reporting period such as additional co-creation workshops, webinars, local visits, etc.
So far, through an extended reporting form tracked every Quarter, HYDROUSA consortium has realised 330 dissemination actions. The estimated number of persons reached, in the context of all dissemination and communication activities is exceeding 600,000.
The main ambition of HYDROUSA is to develop a novel circular business model, which is suitable for Mediterranean and other water-scarce regions. The model is based on the valorisation of non-conventional water sources to generate water suitable for different uses (irrigation, potable, domestic use) as well as to produce high added value products (agricultural crops, superfoods, edible salt, compost, essential oils) to regenerate the interrelated circular economy loops. The main advantage of the HYDROUSA approach is that all recovered products and resources will be exploited locally for the benefit of local communities and agricultural cooperatives, minimising in this way the long supply chains, the high transportation costs and eliminating externalities. This model strongly supports the concept of social justice and fairness in the utilisation of resources among communities.

HYDROUSA will support governments to identify water and water-related small and decentralized services delivering regenerated closed loops. Possible further actions will be directed to creating regulatory and institutional clarity, generating conducive environment for the decentralized service delivery models. A major focus is on rural, water-scarce decentralized areas; HYDROUSA water loops support the European Green Deal without leaving individual houses or small regions behind and ensure a fair and inclusive transition.
HYDROUSA's water loops
HYDROUSA technologies and products
HYDROUSA approach versus conventional approach