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The first off-grid water desalination system 100% powered by renewable energies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - W2W - Water to Water (The first off-grid water desalination system 100% powered by renewable energies)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-08-31

Water scarcity is probably one of the most challenging topics o issues of the 21st century affecting every continent. According to the United Nations, it affects more than 40 percent of the global population, and by 2050 more than 5 bn people could suffer water shortages. Europe is no exception, as one third of the European countries have relatively low availability of water. In the Mediterranean area there is both a severe lack and great demand for water. However, climate change and growing water demand is projected to increase water shortages in other EU regions.
The current and predicted future water deficit scenarios challenges water supply managers to come up with a sustainable and reliable alternate source while making the supply infrastructure smarter and resilient. This necessity to address the gap between water demand and availability is increasing adoption of desalination technology, and in this context, the ocean is seen as a promising source for providing drinking water for more than 40% of the EU population living in coastal areas. However, traditional technologies for water desalination are highly energy demanding and the capital and operation costs are not affordable for small to medium-sized applications.

W2W-Water to Water is a state-of-the-art desalination system that tackles these two challenges. It has been originally conceived to be used with renewable energie sources (intermittent power) and to provide clean water from seawater or brackish groundwater. It is easily scalable, mobile and rapidly deployable, even in remote areas. It is highly versatile, and it adapts to be used in multiple applications such as: drinking water delivery in low-income and developing countries, humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations or to support the water distribution in intense touristic areas during the dry season.

We are Rainmaker Holland, a Dutch SME focused on developing sustainable and decentralized water purification technologies to produce clean water. Our global aim is to scale-up and validate the first W2W industrial unit, a decentralized desalination unit providing up to 80 m3 of clean water daily. Its functioning will be demonstrated as a versatile system, adapted to different applications: powered by renewable energy (wind & solar), connected to the grid or a combination.
For reaching this aim, a 24-month working plan has been defined, with key specific goals and seven work packages with technical and commercial objectives.

The WP1, consisted of carrying on experiments to optimise the components conforming the W2W industrial unit to end with the final design: water distillation, wind turbine and solar panels. In WP2, once all components are being assembled, we conduct all the in-house testing of the W2W industrial unit under controlled conditions (still ongoing). The WP3 consists of the W2W validation in site (testing facilities) -Desalination Living Lab in Canary Islands (Spain) under real conditions that will be performed in the second period. The WP4 “Industrialisation of W2W manufacturing” consists of the development of protocols for manufacturing and distribution of W2W at industrial scale, also to be implemented in the second period. In the WP5- “IPR management and Regulation issues”-we will assure intellectual protection and regulation for freedom to operate and that W2W meets all the performance and safety requirements (ongoing). The WP6- “Dissemination, Communication & Pre-commercialisation” will be devoted to implement all dissemination and communication actions as well as the definition of the commercialisation strategy for our innovation. The commercialisation plan has been outlined and we have already started with the D&C activities, though the main efforts in this regard will come once the W2W unit is validated and we have significant results to communicate. In WP7: Project Management and Coordination: we make sure that all the efforts will be put in place to ensure the achievement of project results despite all challenges and drawbacks faced so far.
Current desalination technologies is not adapted to the intermittency of renewable energy sources, such as the fast fluctuations in output from wind or solar energy. W2W is the First-Of-A-Kind water desalination system that uses advanced membrane technologies to provide drinking water from salty or brackish water without the need of connection to the grid (off-grid), batteries or aggregate. W2W offers a sustainable solution to provide drinking water in a cost-effective way without depending on fuel energy sources, becoming a clean and environmental friendly solution there where seawater is an abundant resource, while access to energy is limited. Its modular design allows water production capacity to be easily increased by combining multiple units (from 35 to 150 m3/day) and a fast transportation and installation (total:14 days), specially designed for assuring an easy installation in remote locations, with minimal operation costs & maintenance. Water is locally supplied, avoiding transportation costs and with a zero-carbon footprint technology. A complete W2W unit includes wind turbine + solar panels + desalination system. It provides 150 m3 of drinking water every day, covering the needs of more than 5,000 people.
The promising near-zero carbon footprint desalination lies on the ability to leverage the intermittency of the renewable energies → Rainmaker is the first company to achieve this.
Who is our target market?
W2W users are small towns or villages with poor access to fresh water sources or reliable energy sources, but close to a significant supply of seawater or brackish water and with renewable energy resources.
W2W will assure the access to drinking water in locations that experience a peak in water demand, and where the installation of a conventional water desalination plant is not cost-effective or simply not possible. We will focus our efforts in targeting two users for which W2W offers unique selling points:
User 1-Water managers and hotel sector on island and in coastal locations with limited or no access to the electricity grid, and specially tourist destinations in the Mediterranean area, facing great temporal variability of water demand together with adverse climatic conditions and high energy prices.
User 2- Humanitarian agencies and stakeholders working on long term development and emergency response for communities (NGOs, UN agencies…), aimed at assuring access to drinking water in off-grid areas under water-stress for disaster/emergency relief.
We will first enter the market by targeting sectors where price is not the decisive criteria: such as sustainable tourism, NGOs support or humanitarian aid.
Once W2W is upscaled, we will target other sectors much more cost-driven, such as industrial wastewater treatment, water reuse for public parks irrigation or agriculture.
Interior of W2W first DEMO unit