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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HYDROUSA (Demonstration of water loops with innovative regenerative business models for the Mediterranean region)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

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 Euro 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 nature-inspired 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 (Lesvos, Mykonos, and Tinos). Furthermore, the transferability of HYDROUSA solutions will be assessed in 25 early adopter cases in Mediterranean coastal areas and islands and at several water-stressed rural or peri-urban non-Mediterranean areas. The additional services that will be provided with the innovative approaches will lead to a win-win situation for the economy, the environment, and the community. Comprehensive business models will be 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 will not only develop and demonstrate innovative water services, but will revolutionise the water value chains in Mediterranean areas from water use up to sewage treatment and reuse. 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 the implementation phase. The design of the systems has been concluded. 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, which will allow the subsequent construction, operation and long-term feasibility of the HYDRO systems. The solutions were prepared with the involvement of the local stakeholders who impacted on the design procedure. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been integrated in the design of the HYDRO systems to enable effective monitoring and control of the processes. The collected data will allow the demonstration of the circularity of HYDROUSA water loops, the circular business and exploitation model design. The design of all HYDRO demonstration systems was successfully completed, and construction works are in progress. The construction of HYDRO3 was completed ahead of schedule and a first prototype for HYDRO5 solar desalination system has been developed. In HYDRO6, rainwater harvesting, and vapour water condensation systems are already under development. User requirements surveys were conducted in the test sites regarding the monitoring of the HYDROUSA demonstration sites using ICT. The collected data were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques for ensuring precision, reliability and integrity of the results. Significant progress has also been made in the preparation of the agricultural innovations in each demonstration site. A structured plan was set and implemented to define the factors that determine the agricultural conditions and designs. These included community engagement plan, where local communities have contributed with their knowledge and ambitions; technical tours were implemented to study each site in terms of location, weather conditions, accessibility to the public and protection; soil sampling and analysis in each site; selection of most suitable plants and development of plantations. In addition, critical analyses, reviews and “fitness check” of relevant EU directives, on-going policy initiatives, minimum requested quality standard, regulatory and financing frameworks have been carried out in order to better steer and support the implementation, exploitation and replication of the HYDROUSA solutions. Furthermore, an initial review of methodologies, frameworks and indicators for measuring and evaluating the HYDROUSA material flow and economic value chain has been implemented. The applicability of concepts such as urban water metabolism, urban harvest approach, one water approach, LCA, LCC, true costs and external benefits accounting, demand minimization and self-sufficiency has been studied for the purposes of the HYDROUSA circularity evaluation. Finally, marketing and exploitation activities focused on defining the exploitation scenarios along the 6 HYDRO demonstrators. Three Layers of the Business Model Canvas has been developed for each scenario to consider not only the economic dimension but also social and environmental issues.
A deep analysis of potential stakeholder-profiles who we would like to be involved in the project took place, including senior levels in industry, regulation and government, local people, researchers, artists and schoolchildren through a community engagement approach. So far, through an extended reporting form tracked every Quarter, HYDROUSA consortium has realised 186 dissemination actions. The estimated number of persons reached, in the context of all dissemination and communication activities is exceeding 60.000.
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 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 could be a support towards the European Green Deal without leaving individual houses or small regions behind and ensure a fair and inclusive transition.
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HYDROUSA technologies and products
HYDROUSA's water loops
HYDROUSA approach versus conventional approach