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Demonstration of the economic feasibility of a wave-powered desalination system

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - W2O (Demonstration of the economic feasibility of a wave-powered desalination system)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2018-06-30

Introduction: Over 1 billion people suffer from the effects of water scarcity with the vast majority being poor residents of developing countries. Desalting seawater is an excellent potential solution but traditional reverse osmosis (R/O) desalination systems require a connection to a strong electrical grid. However, because developing countries typically lack sufficient electrical grid capacity and cannot afford the capital or time required to build and deploy traditional R/O systems, RML is developing an innovative solution to this problem - the world’s first wave-driven desalination system (called Wave2O™) that can be deployed quickly, operate completely “off-grid” and supply large quantities of fresh water at competitive cost.

W2O project objectives: RML has been actively promoting Wave2O™ in several countries and has obtained commitments for pilot-scale Wave2O™ plants in Cape Verde, South Africa and Mauritius. We believe Cape Verde represents the shortest path to commercialization because we have secured a pledge from the local power and water utility, ELECTRA, to purchase a full-scale Wave2O™ plant after trials of a pilot-scale plant have been successfully completed. A location for the pilot plant has been identified and site assessment studies, e.g. bathymetric surveys, wave energy assessments, and water quality assessments commenced in Q3 2017 financed by the African Development Bank via a $0.93M (€0.73M) SEFA (Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa) grant.

Phase 1: The primary Phase 1 objective of the W2O project was to build an analytical framework upon which the economic feasibility of desalination systems powered by ocean wave energy can be evaluated. Preliminary economic feasibility was addressed via development of a detailed and flexible project finance model which combines multiple data inputs to yield outputs including total capital investment, customer payback period and risk-adjusted ‘project’ investor internal rates of return (IRR) for wave-powered desalination projects of assorted sizes; deployed in separate locations; and for time periods ranging from 10-25 years. The model can combine several projects into RML’s consolidated financial statements which convey key performance indicators to various stakeholders, e.g. prospective customers, regulators and investors.

Phase 2: The primary objective of the W2O project in Phase 2 will be to deploy the Wave2O™ pilot plant in PLOCAN (Spain) for a 6 to 12-month series of acceptance trials. In Phase 2, RML will systematically replace data estimates used in the project finance model developed in Phase 1 with actual Wave2O™ performance data from the 12-month test period, firm price quotes from component manufacturers, and confirmed capital costs from project debt and equity providers. The Phase 2 W2O project will lead to the deployment of the first commercial Wave2O™ project in Cape Verde and the launch of RML’s global commercialization activities.
In Phase 1, RML completed the design and development of a project finance modeling tool that analyses the economics of Wave2O™ plant deployments and consolidates multiple plant installations into a comprehensive set of financial reports.

Based on publicly-available data about the proposed Wave2O™ plant site in Cape Verde, RML modeled the performance of a 4,000 m3/day plant assuming two similar-sized plants had already been built and installed. This assumption was made to normalize Wave2O™ manufacturing costs and costs of installation, operations and maintenance (IO&M).

The results showed that such plant could achieve very attractive economics, i.e. a Levelized Cost of Water (LCOW) of approximately €1,20/m3 which is far below the current marginal cost of water in Cape Verde (approximately €4,00/m3). In addition, such plant would deliver an IRR above 20% for project equity investors which is very attractive.
Phase 1 results were presented to a wide range of stakeholders including supply chain partners, Cape Verde government, the AfDB and prospective equity and debt capital providers.
In April 2018, RML finalized an agreement with the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) to perform open-water technical trials of a Wave2O™ pilot-scale (500m3/day) plant. All necessary test site clearances have been obtained and RML and PLOCAN are currently working on a SME Instrument Phase 2 application to fund this activity.
Meeting with PLOCAN - April 2018