Meso-level eco-efficiency indicators to assess technologies and their uptake in water use sectors
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA
Heroon Polytechniou 9 Zographou Campus
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 488 000
Dionysis Assimacopoulos (Prof.)
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CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE DI ALTISTUDI AGRONOMICI MEDITERRANEI
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UNIVERSIDADE DO PORTO
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Grant agreement ID: 282882
1 November 2011
31 December 2014
€ 3 034 643,13
€ 2 499 489
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA
Eco-efficiency indicators for the water sector
Grant agreement ID: 282882
1 November 2011
31 December 2014
€ 3 034 643,13
€ 2 499 489
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA
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Final Report Summary - ECOWATER (Meso-level eco-efficiency indicators to assess technologies and their uptake in water use sectors)
The EcoWater project aimed to develop a metric for assessing the contribution of different technological innovations on the environmental and economic performance of water use systems. Through a systemic approach, the entire value chain was examined, together with the water-use processes involved in the production of agricultural and industrial goods or the provision of potable water services.
The specific research objectives that delineated the EcoWater approach included the:
• Selection of eco-efficiency indicators, suitable for assessing the system-wide eco-efficiency improvements from innovative technologies;
• Integration of existing tools and assessment methods in a coherent modeling environment, allowing for the system-wide environmental and economic benchmarking of innovations;
• Elaboration of exemplary Case Studies in different systems and sectors to assess innovative technologies and practices;
• Understanding of the impact of innovative technology implementation to heterogeneous actors; and
• Analysis and characterization of existing structures and policy instruments for technology uptake, through the conceptualization and simulation of different scenarios on relevant policy and management factors.
The analytical framework of EcoWater consisted of four stages, to aid informed decision making, beginning with mapping the whole water use value chain and identifying the governance issues and actors involved. In the second stage, the system eco-efficiency was estimated, through a lifecycle analysis of the mid-term environmental influences and the added value resulting from the water use. The third stage identified eco-innovative technology opportunities for upgrading the value chain, finally followed by the determination of distributional issues (who wins and who loses in the value chain) and of policies that could mitigate these.
The EcoWater framework has been successfully tested in eight Case Studies, formulated around a unifying theme (water use in agriculture, urban and industrial systems); each Case Study focused on the significant socio-economic and environmental impacts of non-efficient use of resources:
• Two Case Studies for the agricultural water service systems of Sinistra Ofanto, Italy and Monte Novo, Portugal, focused on shifts from rainfed to irrigated agriculture and innovations that can reduce the relevant water and energy footprints and production inputs.
• Two Case Studies for the cities of Zurich, Switzerland, and Sofia, Bulgaria, addressed issues and technologies associated with more sustainable and economically efficient urban water management, water conservation practices and cleaner production technologies in households.
• Four Case Studies addressed water use in the textile, dairy and automotive industries, and for the cogeneration of thermal energy and electricity. Emphasis was placed on the assessment of technologies towards closed-loop systems, recovery of resources and advanced treatment, and on the economic impacts among the actors involved.
The main EcoWater results include:
1. A validated and tested methodological framework for assessing technology impacts on water use systems;
2. An online platform (EcoWater Toolbox) which can be used by actors for the eco-efficiency assessment of their system;
3. An improved understanding of the socio-technical dynamics that influence technology uptake and implementation, and insight on policies to foster eco-efficiency improvements, focusing on different sectors of water use.;
4. A range of values for each eco-efficiency indicator, which helps identify opportunities for upgrading value chain, and highlight the weak stages along the water supply chain;
5. Inter-comparison of stages/processes across sectors;
6. Selection of the most eco-efficient technology options and scenarios for each water use system (More than 25 technologies have been identified as eco-efficient among the technologies included in the online inventory).
Project Context and Objectives:
The scope of the EcoWater project was the integrated assessment of the environmental impacts and the value added to a specific product or service from the use of water. The analysis was targeted at a meso-level that encompasses the water supply and water use chains and entails the consideration of interrelations among different actors.
The main objective of the Project was the establishment of a homogeneous approach for assessing the system-wide eco-efficiency improvements (or deteriorations) from the introduction of innovative technologies, through a set of representative indicators, applicable to different water use systems. Eco-efficiency assessment is a quantitative tool which enables the study of the environmental impacts of a product or service system along with its added value. Eco-efficiency brings together the two eco-dimensions of economy and ecology to relate product or service value creation to environmental impact.
The system assessed under the EcoWater scope involved meso-level water use that combines the typical water supply chain with the corresponding water use chain. It incorporates a specific water use with all the processes needed to render the water suitable (both qualitatively and quantitatively) for this use, and the treatment and discharge of the generated effluents to the environment. It is not limited to the production chain of a specific enterprise or firm, but it considers the whole water cycle of the analysed system from abstraction to disposal. The economic analysis of the meso-level water use system also entails the consideration of the interdependencies and the socio-economic interactions of all the heterogeneous actors involved in the water supply and production chain. It involves the sharing of resources, services and by-products among the actors (symbiosis) in order to add value and reduce costs. As a result, the meso-level water use system has a third significant component, the water value chain.
The introduction of the meso-level can act as an intermediate step in technological transition between the technological niches (in the micro-level) and the wide adoption (or rejection) of new technologies (in the macro-level). In the meso level, all potential actors, both directly and indirectly involved (including SMEs, research organisations, policy makers etc.) are urged to cooperate in order to:
• Propose and build innovative technological solutions that will improve the overall eco-efficiency of the system (eco-innovations); and
• Provide the necessary policy framework that will facilitate and promote their uptake.
The main output of the EcoWater Project was the development of a set of eco-efficiency indicators appropriate for the meso-level, to enable the assessment and facilitate the uptake of innovative technologies in water systems. Towards the assessment of such technologies, the Project developed:
• The EcoWater toolbox, which consists of a suite of on-line tools and resources for assessing the system-wide eco-efficiency improvements from innovative technologies, applicable to different water systems and sectors of water use, as well as
• The Systemic Environmental Analysis Tool (SEAT), a modeling environment for the quantification of eco-efficiency indicators, building on existing methods, models and tools, and the Economic Value chain Analysis Tool (EVAT), a flexible tool to perform economic assessments across the analysed value chains.
The Project developed a methodological approach for the eco-efficiency assessment of meso-level water use systems. Concerning the selection of environmental performance indicators, an 8-step guiding selection process was developed. It was decided that the assessment of the environmental performance of the EcoWater meso-level water use system would follow a life-cycle oriented approach using the midpoint impact categories, which make it possible to characterize different environmental problems.
Regarding the economic performance of the analysed systems, the selected metric was the total value added to the product due the water use, i.e. the total economic value from water use plus the income generated from any by products produced minus the water related costs. For the estimation of the total economic value from water use in the industrial and agricultural Case Studies the residual value approach was used, where the expenses for all the non-water inputs are subtracted from the total value of the products.
In the case of the urban water systems, the product is actually the service provided to consumers (the reliable water supply of appropriate quality and the treatment of wastewater); as an approximate value for the utility provided to consumers, the total economic value added was estimated using the willingness-to-pay approach.
The developed EcoWater methodological framework defined the processes of the analysis which comprised the following steps:
1. Case Study Framing;
2. Baseline Eco-Efficiency Assessment;
3. Identification of Technologies;
4. Technology Scenario Assessment.
The methodological framework was tested and refined through the development of 8 Case Studies of water systems and use sectors of significant socio-economic importance and environmental impact.
In the first step of the analysis, the physical system of the Case Study was analysed, with the definition of the system boundaries, the mapping and description of the water supply chain (stages, processes and existing technologies required for rendering water suitable for specific use/purpose and treating the generated wastewater/effluents) and value chain (actors involved and their interrelations).
In step 2, the water supply and value chains were modelled using the SEAT and EVAT tools respectively. The environmental impact indicators, the total value added to the system from water use, the net economic output of all the involved actors, and the eco-efficiency indicators were estimated. This step supported the interpretation of the baseline eco-efficiency assessment results. The environmentally weak stages and the economically weak actors of each system were identified, highlighting the main focus of technological interventions.
The third step involved the identification and selection of innovative technologies. A preliminary selection of innovative technologies was formulated based on the existing lists of Best Available Techniques for each sector and the relevant literature. The final selection was guided by the eco-efficiency assessment of the system in its current state (“baseline scenario”), and the identification of its vulnerabilities and environmentally weak stages. The technologies were classified according to the stage at which they are implemented:
• Technologies in the water supply chain (common in all water use systems); implemented either upstream (e.g. water treatment) or downstream (e.g. wastewater treatment) of the water use stage; and
• Technologies in the production chain (sector specific).
Finally, in step 4 the proposed technologies were assessed through the development of alternative technology scenarios and their comparison to the baseline scenario. A technology scenario was defined as “the implementation of (at least) one innovative technology in the system under study, assuming that all other parameters remain the same”.
This involved the screening of all available technologies through an individual eco-efficiency assessment. The eco-efficient technologies were identified and then ranked based on their performance towards the three key objectives:
• Pollution Prevention;
• Resource Efficiency;
• Circular Economy.
On the basis of the individual assessment of technologies, alternative technology scenarios were formulated and assessed, focusing on each of the three key objectives and including all the relevant eco-efficient technological options.
In summary, in order to develop, apply and test the proposed methodological framework, the EcoWater project:
• Proposed a list of eco-efficiency indicators, suitable for assessing the system-wide eco-efficiency improvements from innovative technologies;
• Developed an integrated suite of on-line tools and resources (EcoWater Toolbox) for assessing eco-efficiency improvements from innovative technologies in water use systems at the meso-level, equipped with:
o A continuously updated inventory of currently available technological innovations as well as the list of eco-efficiency indicators;
o Two modelling tools, which combine both economic and environmental viewpoints into a single modelling framework;
• Elaborated eight exemplary Case Studies in different systems and sectors to assess innovative technologies and practices;
• Analysed and characterised existing structures and policy instruments, acting either as drivers or barriers for technology uptake, through PESTLE analysis and discussions among the directly and indirectly involves actors of the system.
1 Eco-efficiency Assessment Methodology
The scope of the EcoWater project was the integrated assessment of the environmental impacts and the value added to a specific product or service from the use of water. The analysis is targeted on a meso-level that encompasses the water supply and water use chains and entails the consideration of the interrelations among the heterogeneous actors.
In the context of EcoWater project a systemic approach for the eco-efficiency assessment of meso-level water use systems and the anticipated eco-efficiency improvement from the introduction of innovative technologies was developed. The methodology has been successfully applied into eight Case Studies.
The developed methodological framework consists of four distinct steps. The first step leads to a clear, transparent mapping of the system at hand and the respective value chain. The second step provides the means to assess its eco-efficiency. The assessment of the environmental performance follows a life-cycle oriented approach using the midpoint impact categories (including the impacts from the background systems). The economic performance of the water use system is measured using the Total Value Added to the product due to water use. One important novelty is the distribution of economic costs/benefits and environmental pressures over different stages and stakeholders in the value chain. The third step includes the selection of innovative technologies, which are assessed in the last step and combined with mid-term scenarios to determine the feasibility of their implementation. The proposed methodology is presented in the following sections.
1.1 The Meso-Level Water Use System
In a typical water use system, freshwater is abstracted from a source, treated and then distributed to different users. Each user consumes water of a specific quantity and quality, along with other resources, for the production of one or more products/goods or/and the provision of one or more services. Wastewater from each user is collected and treated before being disposed into the environment. Various sustainability issues are linked to a water use system.
The system examined under the EcoWater project is a meso-level water use system that combines the typical water supply chain with the corresponding water use chain. The meso level can be defined as an intermediate scale between the micro and the macro level and offers an additional means of interpreting the eco-efficiency indicators. The macro level represents the national framework and conditions that apply to all players and consists of the general legal, economic and environmental parameters that significantly affect the water system while the micro-level refers only to single unit and provides the basis for the evaluation of the direct effect that a specific technological option will have on it. The meso-level differs from the above described systems, as it combines a specific water use with all the processes needed to render the water suitable (both qualitatively and quantitatively) for this use, and the treatment and discharge of the generated effluents to the environment. It is not limited to the production chain of a specific enterprise or firm, but it considers the whole water cycle of the analysed system from abstraction to disposal.
The analysis on the meso-level also takes into account the interdependencies and the economic interactions of all the heterogeneous actors involved in these two chains (e.g. between water service providers and users). It also involves the sharing of resources, services and by-products among the actors (symbiosis) in order to add value and reduce costs. As a result, the meso-level water use system has a third significant component, the water value chain.
1.2 System Framing
The mapping of the system under study includes the definition of its boundaries and its special characteristics as well as the functional unit. A generic system, which models the actual meso-level water use system, can be represented as a network of unit processes. Each process represents an activity, which implements one or more technologies. In each process materials are processed and converted into other materials, while emissions are released to the environment (air, land, water) or into the system water flow.
An important element in a typical life cycle approach is the distinction between “foreground” and “background” systems:
• The set of processes whose selection or mode of operation is affected directly by decisions based on the study defines the foreground system.
• The background system includes all other activities and is that which delivers energy and materials to the foreground system, usually via a homogeneous market so that individual plants and operations normally cannot be identified.
As a general rule, case-specific primary data are used to describe the foreground processes, while more generic information is used for background processes. The boundaries of the foreground system encompass all the processes related to the water supply and the water use chains and can be grouped into four generic stages, Water Abstraction, Water Treatment, Water Use and Wastewater Treatment.
Finally, the definition of the functional unit is the foundation of an LCA approach, because it sets the scale for comparison of two or more products or services delivered to the consumers. The main purpose for a functional unit is to provide a reference to which results are normalized and compared. Possible functional units for a meso-level water use system are:
• One unit of product or one unit of service delivered; and
• One unit (e.g. m3) of water used.
1.3 Eco-Efficiency Assessment
Eco-efficiency is a concept that combines resource efficiency (minimizing the resources used in producing a unit of output) and resource productivity (the efficiency of economic activities in generating added value from the use of resources). In such an approach water should be considered in three different ways:
• As a resource, which allows assessing the resource efficiency of the system;
• As a productive input, in order to estimate the total value added from water use to the final product; and
• As a waste stream, in order to assess the environmental impacts of water use and to identify potential synergies/alternative uses for these streams.
Eco-efficiency assessment is a quantitative tool which enables the study of the environmental impacts of a product or service system along with its added value. Eco-efficiency brings together the two eco-dimensions of economy and ecology to relate product or service value creation to environmental impact.
Within eco-efficiency assessment, environmental impacts are assessed using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. Consequently, an eco-efficiency assessment shares with LCA many important principles and approaches such as life cycle perspective, functional unit, life-cycle inventory and life cycle impact assessment. The value of the product or service system may be chosen to reflect its resource, production, delivery or use efficiency, or a combination of these.
Eco-efficiency is expressed quantitatively by the “eco-efficiency equation”; the numerator is the economic output (benefit) provided by the system and the denominator consists of the environmental impacts (costs) associated with that.
A typical eco-efficiency assessment consists of the following three phases:
• Environmental assessment,
• Value assessment, and
• Quantification of the eco-efficiency.
1.3.1 Environmental Assessment
The environmental assessment concerns the evaluation of the environmental impacts and follows the main stages of the typical LCA (life cycle inventory analysis and life cycle impact assessment) as described in ISO 14044. Life cycle inventory (LCI) analysis involves creating an inventory of flows entering and leaving every process in the foreground system, i.e. the system within the defined system boundaries. Inventory flows include inputs and outputs of the generic “materials”.
In a typical LCA methodology, the inventory of flows must be related to the functional unit defined in the first step. However, in the proposed approach it is preferable to express the flows on an annual basis (e.g. m3 of water abstracted per year, tons of product produced in one year), even if the functional unit is one unit of product or one m3 of water used. This practice facilitates the calculation of annual costs and incomes during the value assessment phase. The environmental impacts per functional unit should be calculated by dividing with the corresponding elementary flow.
The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) is aimed at evaluating the significance of potential environmental impacts based on the inventory of flows. LCIA consists of the following elements:
• Selection of relevant impact categories,
• Classification and characterization, and
• Impact calculation.
The assessment of the environmental performance of the EcoWater water use system is implemented by using midpoint impact categories. This categorization makes it possible to characterize different environmental problems and cover all aspects of different impacts on human health, natural environment, and availability of resources. They also provide a common basis for consistent and robust environmental performance analysis.
The purpose of classification is to organize and possibly combine the life cycle inventory flows into impact categories. The results of the inventory, expressed as elementary flows, are assigned to impact categories according to the ability of the resource/emission to contribute to different environmental problems. Characterization concerns the quantification of the extent to which each resource/emission contributes to different environmental impact categories and it is accomplished using standard characterization factors.
More specifically, the environmental impact for impact category c is expressed as a score (ES_c) in a unit common to all contributions within the category. The impacts from the foreground processes can be easily calculated using the flows from the inventory analysis and the characterization factors, as follows:
(ES_C)_fore = Σ_r cf_r,c × f_r + Σ_e cf_e,c × f_e
where cf_r,c the characterization factors of resource r for the impact category c (e.g. water for freshwater depletion, natural gas for fossil fuel depletion and phosphorus for mineral depletion); cf_e,c the characterization factors of emission e for the impact category c (e.g. carbon dioxide for climate change, phosphorus for eutrophication and sulphur dioxide for acidification); f_r the elementary flow of resource r; and f_e the elementary flow of emission e.
The environmental impacts from these processes are evaluated based on background or secondary data taken from LCA databases. The background data is considered to be generic, normally represented for a mix or a set of mixes of different processes. Analysing the data provided by the LCA databases, environmental impact factors (ef_r,c), representing the environmental impacts from the production and/or transportation of one unit of a resource r to each impact category c can be calculated. The contribution of background processes to the environmental impacts of category c is then calculated using these factors, as:
(ES_C)_back = Σ_r ef_r,c × f_r
Background impacts are added to the foreground ones to calculate the system-wide environmental impacts.
ES_C = (ES_C)_fore + (ES_C)_back
1.3.2 Value Assessment
The selected economic performance indicator for the value assessment of a meso-level water use system, which takes into account the operation of both the water supply and the water use chains, is the Total Value Added (TVA) to the product due to water use, expressed in monetary units per period, in general per year (Euros/year). It is estimated as:
TVA = EVU + VP_BP – TFC_WS – TFC_WW - TIC
where EVU is the total economic value from water use, VP_BP the income generated from any by-products of the system, TFC_WS the total financial cost related to water supply provision for rendering the water suitable for the specific use purpose, TFC_WW the total financial cost related to wastewater treatment and TIC the annual equivalent future cash flow generated from the introduction of new technologies in the system.
EVU refers to the total benefits from direct use of water. The approach followed for estimating it depends on whether the water is used as a resource in a production process (e.g. water use in industrial and agricultural sectors), or delivers a service to the customers (e.g. water use in urban sector).
In the first case, EVU is estimated using the residual value approach:
EVU = TVP – EXP_NW
where TVP is the Total Value of Products, and EXP_NW are the Non-Water Expenses representing the expenses for all the non-water inputs as well as the costs related to emissions in the water use stage (stage 3).
The above approach cannot be applied an urban water supply system, because the product is actually the service provided to households and to non-domestic consumers. In that case, the estimation of the economic value from water used is based on these customers’ willingness to pay for the water services. Based on the assumption that the level of water services provided will not change as a result of technology implementation (i.e. the application of a technology or management practice will not result in supply interruptions or render the quality of water unsuitable for the specific purpose) and that the total utility (the overall satisfaction of wants and needs) does not change between scenarios, the economic value from water use can be estimated by:
EVU = WTP × f_w,2-3,bl
where WTP consumers’ willingness to pay for the services provided (defined as the maximum amount a consumer would be willing to pay in order to receive a reliable and adequate water supply) and f_w,2-3,bl the total quantity of water supplied to the processes of water use stage in the baseline case, as denoted by the superscript bl.
TFC_WS represents the expenses in the processes of water abstraction and water treatment stages (stages 1 and 2) and TFC_WW represents the expenses in the processes of wastewater treatment stage (stage 4):
The TVA can be also calculated by aggregating the Net Economic Output (NEO) of all the directly involved actors in the system. The NEO is estimated by the following equation:
NEO_i = WS_i + VP_i –FC_i –IC_i
where WS_i represents the net revenues of the actor from the water services (incomes from services provided to other actors minus expenses from services received by other actors), while VP_i, FC_i and IC_i are the value of product(s), financial costs and annual investment costs, respectively, incurred in the pertinent stages of the actor.
1.3.3 Eco-efficiency quantification
The Eco-Efficiency Indicators (EEI) of the meso-level water use systems are defined as ratios of the economic performance to the environmental performance of the system. There are 14 eco-efficiency indicators, one for each environmental impact category c.
EEI_c = TVA / ES_c
1.4 Special methodological issues
This section addresses two special methodological issues regarding: a) the handling of “recovered resources” (e.g. energy, phosphorus, etc.), generated due to the implementation of innovative technologies and b) the assessment of environmental impacts from freshwater use.
1.4.1 Recovered Resources
Recovered resources, as a result of applying an innovative technology, will affect the eco-efficiency of the water system and should be included in the analysis. The problem is more complex when the recovered resources are exported and used outside of the system boundaries. In a typical LCA analysis, this problem is handled by an expansion and substitution approach.
When a process of a system provides more than one function, i.e. delivers several goods and/or services, it is defined as multifunctional. Multifunctionality in the analyzed meso-level water use systems occurs due to the introduction of innovative technologies, as e.g. in the following cases:
• Introduction of a hydropower generator, which functions as a pressure reduction valve, in the water distribution process. The generated electricity can be used on-site, exported to the grid or stored for future usage.
• Introduction of advanced phosphorus recovery technologies in the processes of the wastewater treatment stage. The recovered phosphorus can be sold for use to another system.
The environmental impacts of these multifunctional processes are handled as follows:
• In case of on-site use of the generated resource (closed-loop recycling) the consumption of primary energy sources is reduced affecting the environmental performance of the system; hence the amount of the recovered resources will be subtracted from the relevant elementary flow during the environmental impact assessment. The economic performance of the system is affected as well (as the costs related to resource used and the additional technology is considered for the estimation of the TVA).
• In case that the recovered resources are exported to another system (open-loop recycling) the economic and the environmental performance of the analyzed system are affected as follows:
o The cash flow from the sale of the recovered resources will be considered for the estimation of the TVA produced, as a benefit of the relevant actor due to technology uptake.
o The reduced amount of resources in the wastewater stream will mitigate relevant environmental impacts. The potential environmental benefits associated with the use of recovered resources (e.g. reduced amount of primary materials and energy sources) will not be considered, as they are ascribed to the system where the use of resources takes place.
1.4.2 Freshwater Resource Depletion
Impacts from the use of freshwater (resource depletion) are far from being standardized in current LCIA practice and there is no standardized environmental midpoint indicator for this impact category. To date, most studies have neglected this issue or reflected it as a simple indicator, expressing the volume of abstracted water by the product system.
However, in the case of water use systems, freshwater resource depletion cannot be neglected. The proposed approach, is based on the Freshwater Ecosystem Impact (FEI) indicator, defined as:
FEI = f_w,0-1 × WTA
where f_w,0-1 is the freshwater abstracted and WTA is the water withdrawal to availability ratio. The latter can be defined as:
WTA = WU / WR
where WU is the total annual freshwater withdrawal in a river basin and WR represents the annual freshwater availability in the same basin.
2 EcoWater Tools and Toolbox
The EcoWater Toolbox is a web-based platform, which contains the resources and tools necessary for the eco-efficiency assessment of different technologies, through their implementation in water use systems. It is equipped with a continuously updated inventory of currently available technological innovations as well as a list of eco-efficiency indicators. It has been designed to support a comprehensive four-step eco-efficiency assessment.
2.1 Step 1 – System Framing.
In this step, the definition of the system boundaries as well as the mapping and description of the water supply chain (stages, processes and existing technologies) and value chain (actors involved and their interrelations) take place, both through a narrative way and by uploading the relevant models of the water supply and value chain.
2.2 Step 2 – Baseline Eco-Efficiency Assessment
The environmental impact for the impact category c is expressed as a score (ESc) based on the concepts of classification and characterization (see section 1.3.1). The required elementary flows of resources and emissions are calculated by the SEAT modelling tool (see Section 2.5).
The Eco-Efficiency Indicators (EEI) of the meso-level water use systems are estimated as ratios of the economic performance indicator (Total Value Added, calculated in EVAT/see Section 2.6) to the environmental performance of the system (environmental impacts)
This step also supports the interpretation of the baseline eco‐efficiency assessment results through:
• Calculation of the contribution of foreground and background systems to the environmental performance indicators, highlighting the most significant environmental impacts;
• Breakdown of the environmental impact per stage of the foreground system, indicating the environmental weaknesses of the system; and
o Estimation of the Net Economic Output for each directly involved actors.
2.3 Step 3 – Identification of Technologies
The Toolbox integrates a technology inventory, with detailed information on the possible technologies and practices for the eco‐efficiency improvement of the water system. During this step, technologies can be selected from the inventory for implementation either throughout the water supply and wastewater treatment stages (common for all water use sectors) or within the water use processes (sector specific technologies).
2.4 Step 4 – Technology Scenario Assessment
Each of the proposed technologies is modeled by identifying the parameters of the water supply and value chains that are affected by their implementation. The estimation of the eco‐efficiency indicators can be repeated for each different technology or combination of technologies. The toolbox enables the assessment of innovative technologies by supporting the development of technology scenarios and providing tools for modeling the impacts on the water system from the technology implementation. Thus, it facilitates the comparison of technology scenarios to the baseline results both per actor and for the entire system studied.
2.5 Systemic Environmental Analysis Tool
SEAT is the core modeling tool of the EcoWater Toolbox that assists in building a representation of a meso-level water use system, its processes and interactions. This model forms the basis for evaluating the midpoint impact indicators, used to measure the environmental performance of the system. A SEAT model provides the elementary flows of resources and emissions that are necessary for evaluating the environmental impacts. It also provides the flows of water, products and other materials that allow the estimation of the costs and incomes generated by the system and quantify the interactions among the actors. Therefore, the system’s model is built in SEAT and its results are the main input to the EVAT tool.
SEAT operates as an interactive graphical modelling environment providing the following core functionalities:
• Design of a model representation of the analysed physical system. A graphical approach is followed, where the user specifies the stages and the processes of the water use system by actually drawing the elements on a canvas.
• Mapping of the stages and the production processes in the water supply and use chains. This is the core modelling step where the user specifies the flow of materials to and from processes, as well as the relationships between input and output flows.
• Automatic calculation of the material flows for each process and stage, using the input-output relations defined in the previous step, when at least one reference flow is specified.
• Presentation and reporting of the results. The software supports the tabular representation of the calculated flows per link, process, stage, and for the entire system. It also allows exporting the results in common format for further processing and graphing.
The modelling approach adopted in SEAT is based on the principles of Material Flow Analysis which model material and energy flows in production chains. According to this approach, SEAT networks are graphs with two different types of vertices called processes and places, connected with links. Processes represent single activities in which materials are processed and transformed to other materials. Places represent store and/or transfer nodes for materials within the network and are distinguished as input nodes (the initial sources of materials flowing towards processes) and output nodes (the target sinks of materials flowing from processes). Junctions are special type of places, connecting processes and acting as output nodes for one process and input nodes for the other process. Links represent a way by which materials can flow between nodes. Finally, processes can be grouped into stages that serve as containers for network nodes.
2.6 Economic Value Chain Analysis Tool
EVAT supplements the analysis of SEAT by addressing the value chain, its actors and their interactions. The value chain monitors the added value to the final product due to water use from stage to stage and can be described using monetary quantities. EVAT also provides the allocation of costs and incomes among the chain stages and actors that forms the basis for the analysis of potential distributional effects involved in the studied systems.
The main output from EVAT is the monetary flows that can be used to estimate the total value added (TVA) to the product from water use, defined as:
EVAT operates on a similar to SEAT interactive environment, based on the network representation of the physical model. The core functionalities provided are:
• Management of the relevant actors, e.g. the specification of the actors involved in the water system and the assignment of the relevant stages to each actor.
• Specification of financial costs incurred in the system’s processes and the incomes generated from products or services.
• Analysis of economic interactions among actors by identifying and quantifying the water services between actors.
• Calculation, presentation and reporting of the results. The software calculates the total value added from water use and the net economic output per actor. All economic results are broken-down either per stage or per actor.
The approach adopted for the development of EVAT is based on the concept of inheritance used in object oriented design patterns. EVAT builds on the model developed in SEAT, inheriting the basic elements described in Section 2.5 and extending it to include economic information, necessary for the estimation of total value added and the net economic output of actors. Two complementary views (modes) of EVAT operation permit the specification of the different financial elements in the value chain in an organized manner.
The “stages view” provides the context for defining the cost elements incurred in each stage of the water supply and use stages, as well as the incomes generated from product in water use stage. On the other hand, the “actors view” permits the specification of water services between actors, necessary to calculate the net economic output of actors.
Equivalent annual investment cost (from the upgrade of the value chain) is calculated by specifying the total investment cost, the life time of the implemented action and an interest rate. Operations and maintenance cost are composed by a fixed part plus the cost of productive inputs (resources) and/or any taxes paid for the emissions. The unit costs of resources and emissions are specified in the stages view and the actual costs are calculated using the corresponding flows from the SEAT model. A similar procedure is followed for the specification of incomes.
Any type of water tariff structure can be specified by defining a flat rate and a volumetric tariff in“actors view” mode of EVAT. The latter may be a fixed volumetric rate or a more complex block tariff (increasing or decreasing). Expenses and incomes from water services are calculated by combining the tariffs defined in EVAT with the water flow calculated in SEAT model.
3 Case Studies
The EcoWater framework has been successfully tested in eight Case Studies, formulated around a unifying theme (water use in agriculture, urban and industrial systems); each Case Study focuses on the significant socio-economic and environmental impacts of non-efficient use of resources.
The eight EcoWater Case Studies include:
• Two Case Studies for the agricultural water service systems of Sinistra Ofanto, Italy and Monte Novo, Portugal, which focused on shifts from rainfed to irrigated agriculture and innovations that can reduce the relevant water and energy footprints and production inputs.
• Two Case Studies for the cities of Zurich, Switzerland, and Sofia, Bulgaria, which addressed issues and technologies associated with more sustainable and economically efficient urban water management, water conservation practices and cleaner production technologies in households.
• Four Case Studies have addressed water use in the textile, dairy and automotive industries, and in the cogeneration of thermal energy and electricity. Emphasis was placed on the assessment of technologies towards closed-loop systems, recovery of resources and advanced treatment, and on the economic impacts among the actors involved.
3.1 Agricultural Case Studies
3.1.1 Monte Novo Irrigation Scheme
The Sinistra Ofanto irrigation scheme is located in Southern Italy, Apulia region, in the south-eastern part of the province of Foggia with a command area stretching along the left side of the Ofanto River. It is characterized by excessive exploitation of water resources and high GHG emissions released in atmosphere due to intensive irrigation, fertilizer application and management practices.
The main environmental hotspots identified during the baseline eco-efficiency performance assessment of the Sinistra Ofanto system were:
• Freshwater Resource Depletion due to irrigation;
• Climate Change impact due to emissions from fuel consumption and fertilizer production; and
• Eutrophication of groundwater and surface water due to NO3- and PO43- leaching.
Technology scenarios were formulated towards resource efficiency and pollution prevention to improve the eco-efficiency of the agricultural water use system. Six alternative technologies were selected:
• Improvement of the on-farm irrigation efficiency and water saving through a larger adoption of drip irrigation instead of micro-sprinklers for artichoke, olives and orchards while keeping wheat rainfed.
• Improvement of the on-farm irrigation efficiency and water saving through a larger adoption of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) for artichoke, olives, table grapes and orchards while keeping wheat rainfed.
• Substitution of the on-farm diesel engine pumps with the electricity engine pumps – the pumps are used for the water abstraction from the aquifer and from the river and then for water delivery and on-farm irrigation.
• Substitution of the on-farm diesel engine pumps with solar powered pumps – the pumps are used for the water abstraction from the aquifer and from the river and then for water delivery and on-farm irrigation.
• Application of smart (remote) technologies for monitoring of soil-plant-atmosphere continuum and precise on-farm irrigation management.
• Evaluating effectiveness of new water pricing policy and increasing annual water supply by CBC from 36 Mm3 to 45 Mm3.
Two overall scenarios were elaborated, “super-intensive” and “low intensive”, combining innovative technologies implementation in different processes. The Super-intensive scenario consists of the uptake of solar powered pumps, sub-surface drip irrigation and smart irrigation technologies. Solar pumps are fully implemented in three irrigation zones while subsurface drip irrigation and smart technologies are implemented for orchards in two irrigation zones and for olives in one irrigation zone. For the low-intensive scenario, drip irrigation, solar pumps and smart technologies are implemented only for one irrigation zone.
The combination of different eco-efficient technologies improved the environmental performance of the system more than the individual technology uptake. Net CO2 savings by super-intensive implementation of these technologies were estimated as 17,253 tonCO2eq or 19.4%. Related impact indicators for fossil fuel depletion, mineral depletion and terrestrial eco-toxicity were decreased by 5386 MJ, 3.76 ton Feeq and 4.54 ton1.4-Dbeq respectively. Overall, super-intensive combination of new technologies tends to improve environmental performance in comparison with baseline condition, up to 31% in the case of mineral depletion. Furthermore in both scenarios the TVA of the system increased, resulting in an increased eco-efficiency.
3.1.2 Monte Novo Irrigation Scheme
The Monte Novo irrigation perimeter provides water for irrigation to an area of more than 7,800 ha. This perimeter is integrated in the Alqueva Multipurpose Project, an important source of irrigation water. The Alqueva reservoir provides a large amount of water, changing the paradigm from rainfed agricultural practices to irrigation
It is a recent irrigation perimeter, which began operating in 2009, with subsidized water prices until 2017. Currently, the agricultural activities have very low competitiveness, with reduced productivity, and farmers are greatly supported by public policies, including subsidies.
The main environmental hotspots identified for the Monte Novo Irrigation Scheme were:
• Freshwater Resource Depletion, due to high amount of water abstracted for irrigation;
• Eutrophication, due to the use of fertilizers (Nitrogen and Phosphorus);
• Fossil Fuels Depletion, due to the energy production.
Towards the improvement of the overall eco-efficiency, five alternative options were selected:
• Improvement of water saving using Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI) for olives, maize and pastures.
• Decrease of fertilizer use through the introduction of sludge from waste water treatment plants of the area.
• Decrease of fertilizer use through the introduction of organic compounds appropriate for biological agriculture.
• Improvement of the irrigation efficiency through the adoption of subsurface drip irrigation instead of drip irrigation for maize and olives.
• Reduction in water costs by re-scheduling irrigation to periods during which the energy price is lower.
Two overall scenarios were formulated. The “super-intensive” scenario included the application of organic fertilizers, sludge from waste water treatment plants and regulated deficit irrigation. The organic fertilizers were only applied to maize, as, according to the individual assessment of technologies, it is the crop with a higher increase in eco efficiency. The regulated deficit irrigation technology was considered for maize, olives and pastures for both low pressure and high pressure areas. The use of sludge was only considered for pastures (high pressure) due to restrictions with the availability of sludge.
The second, “low-intensive” scenario, included organic fertilizers, sludge and regulated deficit irrigation technologies only for high pressure areas, i.e. organic fertilizers applied to maize, sludge applied to pastures and regulated deficit irrigation applied to maize, olives and pastures.
The combination of different technologies resulted in a noticeable improvement for all the environmental indicators. The implementation of the “super intensive” scenario decreased fossil fuels depletion by 21% and eutrophication by 62%. For the “low-intensive” scenario these two indicators were reduced by 11% and 33%, respectively. Concerning the economic performance, the implementation of organic fertilizers and sludge decreased the fertilization expenses. The regulated deficit irrigation technology decreases the costs associated with consumption and transport of water. The TVA, when compared with the baseline scenario is increased by 70% for the “super-intensive” scenario and by 36% for the “low-intensive” scenario. Thus, the eco-efficiency increased for all the selected impact indicators in both scenarios, due to the reduction of environmental impacts and increase of TVA.
3.1.3 Conclusions for Agricultural Case Studies
The main environmental impacts for both Case Studies are due to the background systems and the production of energy, fuel and agrochemicals. Four environmental impact indicators are particularly relevant to the agricultural water use systems:
• Fresh water depletion,
• Climate change,
• Eutrophication, and
• Fossil fuel depletion.
Shifting to more clean technologies (e.g. smart irrigation technologies, electric/solar pumps, organic farming and sludge use) is a process which requires large societal, economic and political support.
3.2 Urban Water Supply Systems
3.2.1 Sofia Urban Water Supply System
The case study dealt with the urban water system of Sofia - the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. It is a system with old infrastructure and is characterized by increased freshwater intake due to high water losses in water distribution network, increased freshwater intake due to inefficient water appliances and low energy efficiency.
The main environmental hotspots identified were:
• Freshwater Resource Depletion, due to water losses in the water distribution network and extensive amount of water used in households;
• Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Depletion, due to sludge transportation;
• Significant impact in most of the environmental categories, due to conventional energy production.
Three alternative scenarios were formulated in order to address the major goals of a more sustainable development: resource efficiency, pollution prevention and circular economy.
The scenario towards resource efficiency included pressure reduction turbines and water saving appliances. The pressure management reduces the amount of leakages and failures in the system while a water saving appliance reduces the water used for satisfying human water needs. Although this scenario focused on freshwater resource depletion, it had almost equally positive impact on all environmental impact categories. This result is not surprising, as both technologies reduce not only water use, but also the use of non-renewable energy sources. Regarding the economic performance, results showed that the NEO is much higher for the domestic users than for the water operator. This is the reason for the increased eco-efficiency for the user in all categories and not so explicit improvement of the eco-efficiency for the water operator.
The scenario towards pollution prevention included a combination of technologies aiming either to reduce the used energy or to suggest alternatives to non-renewable energy sources: i.e. 1) water and energy saving appliances, 2) drain water heat recovery, 3) solar water heating, 4) pressure reduction turbines, and 5) hydro power plant (before WTP). The environmental categories which showed an expected significant improvement were those related to energy, produced from non-renewable sources. Similarly to the first scenario, domestic users had higher economic benefit, and this led to eco-efficiency improvement for all categories for the domestic users.
The “Circular economy” scenario focused on technologies generating by-products which could be used outside system boundaries. It included (i) solar sludge drying which produced fertilizer, suitable for use in agriculture and land reclamation; ii) pressure reduction turbines and hydro power plant (before WTP) generating renewable energy, which is exported to the grid. The comparison between this scenario and the other two showed that the increase of the environmental performance is smallest, around 5 times less than in the other two scenarios. There was similar change for all categories when the scenario was compared to the baseline scenario. Although TVA for the users did not change from the implementation of the selected technologies, their NEO was still two times higher than the NEO of the operator. This was the only scenario with improved eco-efficiency for all categories for the water operator.
3.2.2 Waedenswil Urban Water Supply System
The municipality of Waedenswil is located in Canton Zurich, which is the Canton with the highest population (1.4 million inhabitants) in Switzerland. The Canton of Zurich is an economically important part of the country. Its water supply sources are mainly groundwater and lakes and partly spring water. Lake Zurich is as an important provider of raw water, especially for communities along the lakeside, and more specifically in Waedenswil 62% of drinking water stems from the lake. The applied waste water treatment in this area is technologically on an advanced standard.
The main environmental hotspots identified were:
• Climate change and fossil fuel depletion due to water heating with fossil resources such as gas and oil;
• Micropollutants emissions; and
• Freshwater resource depletion, due to water use in households.
Three alternative overall scenarios were formulated in order to address the major goals of a more sustainable development: resource efficiency, pollution prevention and circular economy.
The “Resource efficiency” scenario included greywater reuse technology and water saving appliances. Both technologies reduced primarily the used amount of drinking water resources. The scenario aimed at a more efficient use of resources, in this case water and fossil fuels, represented by the indicators freshwater resource depletion and fossil fuels depletion, which were reduced by 13% and 6% respectively. However, the water operator and the municipality face financial losses due to its implementation. These losses will be passed on to the domestic water users as their value added increases. As the scenario had significantly positive environmental impacts, these compensation flows should be established to guarantee the implementation of technologies proposed.
The “Pollution prevention” scenario aimed primarily at protection of the environment against pollution. In this scenario, smart pumps, micropollutants removal technology, water saving appliances for warm water and solar water heating were combined. All environmental performance indicators improved, with the micropollutants reducing by 80%. On the contrary, all actors faced a reduced NEO which, accordingly, led to a reduced total value added for the whole system.
The “Circular economy” scenario focused at closing the loops of energy and resources and treating waste as potential resource. In the urban water cycle this can be achieved if drinking water is reused or recycled (with water reuse and recycling technologies) or if the phosphorus contained in the sewage sludge of WWTP is recovered. Its application slightly affected both the environmental (0-2% improvement) and the economic performance (<3% improvement) of the system. All eco-efficiency indicators decreased slightly (around 3%), except for freshwater resource depletion, which decreased by around 1%.
All three scenarios assessed had the potential to achieve their respective key objectives. Scenario 1 is the best example of all. As this scenario aims at resource efficiency, costly resources are saved, which reduces not only the environmental impact for the whole system, but also the costs for the actors. As the scenario 2 aims at pollution prevention and for many ecosystem services no external costs are being considered at the moment, this scenario leads to financial losses. Although the negative environmental impacts are reduced, the overall eco-efficiency is declining in this scenario compared to the baseline. The goal of circular economy of the scenario 3 can be achieved if the prices for goods and services in question will increase in the future. For all scenarios constant prices for resources were considered, except for phosphorus.
3.2.3 Conclusion from the Urban Case Studies
Both case studies include innovative technologies for all of the three main stages of the system – water supply system, water use and sewerage system. Most of the technologies in both case studies are applied for the environmentally most relevant stage in both systems – “water use”. Due to the legislative differences and differences in the engineering systems, there are no similar technologies for the stages “Water supply system” and “Sewerage system”.
3.3 Industrial Case Studies
3.3.1 Textile Industry
Biella is one of the most distinguished centers of wool processing and production in Europe. It produces fine yarns of good wool, cashmere and vicuna. It has a significant economic impact to the textile commerce and the local workforce, but the economic crisis has resulted in half of the factories closing down.
The production process uses large amounts of freshwater during wet processing operations (e.g. dyeing) and its wastewater is rated as extremely polluting, considering its volume and composition (heavy metals, BOD, COD). Thus, the two major environmental impacts of the studied system are toxicity related issues and freshwater resource depletion.
Based on the results, two main objectives were set for the upgrading of the studied system: (a) increase of resource efficiency, focusing on freshwater depletion, and (b) pollution prevention, focusing on treatment of water effluents. After discussing with the directly involved actors in the system and reviewing the relevant literature, six alternative technologies were selected for implementation in the current system, grouped into two overall scenarios.
The first scenario towards resource efficiency (RE Scenario) included the implementation of the technologies that reduce the consumption of water and supplementary resources. The smart pumping system was applied to water abstraction process, while the LLR jet dyeing machines and automatic dye and chemical dispensing system were applied to the chemical dyeing process. The second scenario towards pollution prevention (PP Scenario), which is pollution prevention oriented, investigated the implementation of two technologies at the stage of wastewater treatment, and the partial replacement of chemical dyeing processes with natural dyeing.
The technology scenario towards resource efficiency significantly improved freshwater resource depletion (reduction by 52.8%) and slightly improved energy related indicators (reducing acidification by 12.4%, climate change by 9.3% and photochemical ozone formation by 15.9%). All toxicity related indicators were significantly improved through the implementation of the technology scenario towards pollution prevention (reduction in aquatic ecotoxicity by 50.1%, terrestrial ecotoxicity by 53.4%, and human toxicity by 32.7%). Eutrophication also slightly improved but all other indicators were negatively affected.
The total value added to the product due to water use increased in both cases (49.52 €/m3 in the RE scenario, 23.12 €/m3 in the PP scenario). The net economic output (NEO) of all the actors increased or, in the worst case, remained constant, with the exception of the NEO of the Industrial Unit A in the technology towards pollution prevention. This observation may be critical for the feasibility of the scenario, since the industrial unit A is the actor responsible for the implementation of two of the technologies. The decrease in the NEO indicates that the economic profit from the installation of an advanced oxidation process and the MBR is not high enough to counterbalance the high investment cost.
The scenario towards pollution prevention improved all eight eco-efficiency indicators and increased the TVA of the entire system; however, the NEO of the Industrial Unit A decreased since the economic profit from the installation of new technologies does not counterbalance the high investment cost. Thus, certain economic incentives are required to make its implementation feasible, such as environmental taxes or subsidies. Besides that, similar alternative scenarios could be examined, such as the joint implementation of the WWTP upgrade by more than one actor.
The scenario towards Resource Efficiency can be implemented more easily since it improved all 9 eco-efficiency indicators, increased the TVA of the system and increased (or in the worst case did not affect) the NEO of all the involved actors. Its main disadvantage is that requires a very high investment cost (~400,000 €) from the industrial units. Given the economic conditions of the textile industry in Biella, this scenario may not be realistic. This certain economic incentives may be required to make its implementation feasible, such as environmental taxes or subsidies.
3.3.2 Energy Industry
The assessed river water system is used for abstracting cooling water for power plants in Diemen, a suburb / industrial area situated to the east of Amsterdam. At the Diemen production site both electrical power and thermal energy for district heating are produced using two gas-fired combined heat-power plants and heat-only boilers. The current district heating system connects 90,000 homes.
The main identified environmental weaknesses were:
• High thermal pollution due to large amounts of waste heat rejected to the surface water through cooling water.
• Consumption of natural gas and high amount of the relevant emissions to air (both greenhouse gases and toxic substances) due to electricity production.
Two main alternative technology scenarios were examined.
• Scenario focusing on resource efficiency by installing heat-only boilers and a heat buffer.
• Scenario focusing on pollution prevention which included the expansion of the heating network (by adding 50,000 new domestic consumers), the utilization of heat in order to preheat potable water and the installation of micro CHP in the households, not connected to the district heating network.
It should be noted that the Energy Industry Case Study involved various input uncertainties.
3.3.3 Dairy Industry
The HOCO dairy, part of ARLA Group in Denmark, produces milk-powder and specialised food ingredients. Significant water and energy uses in the dairy plant has led to focus on reduction of water use and greenhouse gas emissions, and the potential to use water contained in the milk.
The major environmental impacts of the studied system (including both foreground and background) are eutrophication, acidification, human toxicity, climate change and freshwater resource depletion which are characterised by the lowest eco-efficiency indicator values and thus the worst performance. Focusing only on the foreground, climate change and freshwater resource depletion had the lowest eco-efficiency value and thus the worst performance.
Three main objectives were set for the upgrading of the studied system: (a) increase of resource efficiency, focusing on freshwater and energy optimisation (b) pollution prevention from energy use and c) technologies for improving circular economy, where the water in the milk is treated to enable an increased reuse. After discussing with the directly involved actors in the system and reviewing the relevant literature, four alternative technology scenarios were formulated: Scenario for increased resource efficiency and pollution prevention, Scenario for increased resource efficiency, pollution prevention and circular economy, Scenario for increased water resource efficiency, and Scenario towards circular economy and closing the water loop.
In the first scenario, the installation of Anaerobic Digestion combined with advanced oxidation halved the impact on water resource depletion and also reduced the impact on climate change, while the other indicators were not affected. The eco-efficiency was positively affected for all impact categories, most positively for freshwater depletion which more than doubled. The second and the third scenario had a positive effect on two indicators, expressing the environmental performance of the system (freshwater resource depletion and climate change, while the other indicators were not affected. The overall eco-efficiency was positively affected.
The implementation of the fourth scenario had the most significant impact on the environmental performance of the system (70% reduction to the freshwater depletion indicator, 8% for Climate change, slight improvement for the aquatic ecotoxicity). The overall eco-efficiency was more than five times higher for the freshwater depletion impact category and all other impact categories were also positively affected.
Combining advanced oxidation, cleaning and reuse of condensate with anaerobic digestion would further increase the eco-efficiency in particular for the climate change impact category- and this option (not assessed in the case study) may be the best overall choice for a technology scenario for milk powder producing dairies.
3.3.4 Automotive Industry
Volvo Trucks, of the Volvo Group, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks. The Umeå site produces truck cabins and the Gothenburg site produces frame beams, both of which are used in the assembly of final trucks in Gothenburg. The main water use, apart from cooling water, is in the metal surface treatment process and in painting lines using liquid coatings. Although the production line is not within an area of water scarcity, water saving technologies are still of interest to the industry
The main environmental weaknesses of the system include:
• Eutrophication, due to the phosphorus in wastewater after the corrosion protection process;
• Aquatic ecotoxicity, due to the heavy metals in wastewater after the corrosion protection process; and
• Climate change, due to energy use for process heating and circulation pumps.
It is clear that new technologies of interest are those that can be implemented at Volvo Trucks in order to:
• Reduce water use (which will also reduce use of electricity for pumping in the whole system);
• Reduce energy used for heating;
• Reduce the use of scarce elements in chemicals;
• Reduce the use of elements that become toxic pollutants in the wastewater; or
• Reduce the use of elements that become nutrients in the wastewater, causing eutrophication.
Towards that end, three alternative scenarios were formulated. The Resource efficiency technology scenario was a combination of technologies which have a positive effect on the consumption of resources (water, energy, scarce elements):
• Silane-based surface treatment, Tuve.
• Recirculation of process water and chemicals, Umeå.
The Pollution prevention technology scenario was chosen as a combination of three technologies that have potential to reduce water pollution:
• Silane-based surface treatment, Tuve.
• Membrane distillation, Umeå.
• Recirculation of process water and chemicals, Umeå.
The Circular economy technology scenario was a combination of two technologies that promote circular economy, either by using more district heating or result in an increased process-internal recirculation:
• Membrane distillation, Umeå.
• Recirculation of process water and chemicals, Umeå.
All three scenarios increased the overall eco-efficiency of the system, with the scenario towards resource efficiency having the most significant impact. The assessment of silane-based corrosion protection technology has shown really promising results, both as stand-alone assessment and contributing to the good results of the two scenarios on Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention. Its implementation relies partly on the ability to prove product quality in real-life testing, something which is on the way but time-consuming
3.3.5 Conclusion from the Industrial Case Studies
The assessment of innovative technologies and scenarios showed that:
• The water use stages were the dominant contributors to both the total value added and the environmental impacts of the industrial water value chains studied.
• The technologies which result in an increased Eco-efficiency in the water value chain are sector specific.
• Combinations of technologies (scenarios) provide more eco-efficient solutions than single technologies.
• Eco-innovative solutions were identified with significant improvements in environmental performance and smaller improvements in economic performance.
• Economic performance was primarily improved for the industries- while suppliers of water and energy experienced losses.
3.4 Cross comparison of the Case Studies
The cross-comparison of the case studies leads to the identification of potential areas of improvement for by highlighting the weak stages in the water supply chain of each case study and comparing similar stages/processes across case studies.
For example, when comparing the two agricultural case studies, it is obvious that the the Sinistra Ofanto irrigation scheme has a better eco-efficiency performance than the Monte Novo irrigation scheme, mainly explained by the higher fuel consumption for pumping in the latter case. Similar conclusions may be drawn by comparing the two urban case studies. It is obvious that the Sofia urban water supply system has worse eco-efficiency performance. This is due to two main reasons: (a) the energy mix for electricity production in Bulgaria is less environmental friendly than the one in Switzerland and (b) the infrastructure in Bulgaria is older, leading to a very high amount of water leakages, and a very lower eco-efficiency value for the freshwater depletion indicator.
A similar comparison is not feasible for the industrial case studies since the examined production lines differ a lot and the main conclusions are case (or sector) specific. However, it is still clear that the main environmental weakness of Biella is aquatic ecotoxicity (and the other toxicity related issues), since the relevant indicator is at least 10 times lower than any other indicator. The Energy industry, as expected, has the worst performance in the climate change indicator, due to the very high amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The most important environmental issue of the dairy industry is the eutrophication, due to high amounts of BOD, COD and organic residues released to the environment. The values of the eco-efficiency indicators for the automotive industry are of a different order of magnitude to the high value of the final product (compared to all the other 7 products) which highly affects the TVA of the system.
Furthermore, the case study cross comparison can also lead to non-case specific results, such as:
• Definition of a range for each indicator and reference values for normalizing them;
• Technology benchmarking by providing a reference value for eco-efficiency improvements;
• Information for prioritizing and targeting policy actions (e.g. supporting competitive sectors like industrial or agricultural with economic incentives).
3.4.1 Agricultural Case Studies
The two case studies have an identical behavior in both Case Studies. Pollution prevention scenarios can be more easily implemented since all actors have a positive net economic output. On the contrary, farmers lose money when implement water saving technologies.
3.4.2 Urban Water Supply Systems
Both case studies have similar behaviour. Domestic water users improve their economic performance in most cases while water utility and wastewater treatment units demonstrate economic losses in all scenarios, potentially incurring increases of the water/wastewater tariffs
The pollution prevention scenario for Zurich is not economically favorable, since all actors have a negative economic performance. However, it will be implemented as a result of the new Swiss legislation on micropollutants removal
3.4.3 Industrial Water Use Systems
In all 4 systems, the water user is the actor responsible for applying the majority of eco-innovations. In the textile industry, high investments are required by the SMEs for the implementation of both scenarios; however, this is not a realistic option given the economic situation of the textile industry. In the energy industry, More than one resources is traded among the actors of the system (water, electricity, thermal energy, natural gas), making the corresponding tariffs an important parameter when addressing distributional issues.
In the dairy industry, all the scenarios improve the environmental performance and the dairy industry always has profit from their implementation. However, all scenarios assume the replacement of fresh water intake, currently used for dairy processes, with water extracted from milk, which may be prohibited due to national or European regulation on food and health safety.
In the automotive industry, the industrial actor has marginal economic profit from the implementation of eco-innovative technologies, so economic incentive are required to motivate the industry to invest in environmentally friendly technologies.
1 Potential Socio-economic Impact
1.1 EU Policy framework
The EcoWater methodological approach, focusing on developing meso-level eco-efficiency indicators and analytical tools for technology assessment, is relevant to the EU 2020 Strategy for Sustainable Growth. The three key priorities identified by the 7th Environment Action Programme are to:
• Protect, conserve and enhance natural capital;
• Promote a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy; and
• Eliminate environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing.
Through the application of the proposed framework to eight representative Case Studies, the project tried to identify innovative technological solutions that could lead to the promotion of these priorities through the achievement of three objectives:
a) Resource efficiency
b) Pollution prevention and
c) Circular economy
These can all be directly linked with is the decoupling of economic growth from the use of resources and the improvement of eco-efficiency, a key component of green growth and competiveness in several economic sectors.
1.1.1 Water Framework Directive
EcoWater was particularly relevant to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Through its Case Studies, the Project has specifically addressed environmental efficiency in all aspects related to water service provision across different sectors, further accounting for potential instruments and technologies that could contribute to the achievement of the Directive’s environmental objectives.
The EcoWater Case Studies assessed the impact of alternative technologies and eco-efficient practices to enhance sustainability across water systems, thus providing very relevant information for future assessments of pressures exerted on water bodies, as well as for the development of River Basin Management Plans (WFD, Art. 13). Furthermore, alternative scenarios, including cost recovery policies, eco-incentives and pricing have been analysed as means to foster technology uptake and enhance efficiency in water use (WFD, Art. 9). To that end, the Project provided information in order to support relevant EC initiatives such as policy efforts for managing Water Scarcity and Droughts, for Adaptation to Global Change and for the improvement of water quality across the EU.
1.1.2 Urban Wastewater and Waste Framework Directives
Several of the EcoWater Case Studies dealt with the eco-efficiency assessment of current and innovative technologies for the management of by-products and waste from treatment processes, and with recycling, reuse and management of water streams in the involved industrial sectors. Clean technologies and eco-efficient practices were further addressed, focusing primarily on the recovery of resources from waste streams and the use of waste as a source of energy.
1.2 Sector specific policies
The main outcome of the local Case Studies Workshops, combined with the final Large Scale Event targeted to policy makers, are sector-specific recommendations for policies and instruments that could promote the adoption of eco-efficient technological interventions.
1.2.1 Agricultural Water Use Systems
Policy measures that could enhance farmers’ capacities and provide incentives for the promotion of the most eco-efficient management practices are the following:
• Farmers’ education. Establish an effective education programme, e.g. through workshops and roundtables, to facilitate the uptake of better management practices. Give farmers information on more eco-efficient techniques and access to agro-meteorological data for daily water-use management. Learn from the experiences of existing similar services.
• Farm Advisory Service. Strengthen such roles of field-level technical staff, farmers’ associations, regional authorities and other public institutions, alongside DG Agriculture’s programme for a Farm Advisory Service. Beyond specialist advisors, establish a knowledge-exchange system so that farmers can know their current water-use efficiency, can optimise the use of currently installed technologies and can realise their full potential benefits, thus incentivising further improvements.
• CAP criteria. Remunerate practices such as building up soil fertility, substituting organic fertilisers, enhancing biodiversity and avoiding agrochemicals. Incentivise those practices through criteria for Green Direct Payments and Ecological Focus Areas, meant to improve biodiversity and maintain attractive landscapes.
1.2.2 Urban Water Use Systems
Policy issues were oriented towards to the Water Framework Directive and Urban Wastewater and Waste Framework Directives, focusing on phosphorus recovery and micro pollutants removal. In urban water systems, resource burdens and optimal improvements lie beyond the responsibility of any single actor in the value chain.
The quality standards policy is fundamental for increasing the eco-efficiency of urban water use systems. The formulation of water quality standards contributes significantly to the achievement of high eco-efficiency for water companies. The authorities should either strengthen the legal regulations or enhance funding mechanisms in order to modernize the water supply systems in compliance with EU Directives.
A meso-level systemic assessment has helped to identify eco-efficient solutions and policy measures which can incentivise those. However, an institutional facilitator may be necessary to stimulate multi-stakeholder discussions in order to find cooperative ways forward.
1.2.3 Industrial Water Use Systems (Case Study 5, 6, 7 & 8):
In the industrial sector, the EU Industrial Emissions Directive provides a regulatory framework for enhancing resource efficiency as well as reducing pollution. The uptake of the Best Available Techniques by industry will improve the resource-use patterns and reduce emissions for the majority of the industrial installations in the EU, leading to the promotion of innovative technologies and practices and at the same time increasing the profit of industries in the longer term. The BAT standards for each sector are outlined in a Reference Document on Best Available Techniques (BREF). However, from the discussions held with the Industry, it became clear that there is need to clarify standards and refine the list of Best Available Techniques with new and innovative solutions. Furthermore, the industrial sector was linked with a number of relevant policy frameworks accordingly to the type of industry examined.
2 Dissemination Activities
In the formulation of the EcoWater approach, particular emphasis was placed in ensuring that it could be effectively communicated and used by different audiences. For this purpose, the Project built on its dissemination strategy, to obtain early feedback on its methodological perspective, and on ways through which the relevant indicators can be best communicated, both towards the policy sphere and towards private actors. This was achieved on three levels:
• At the level of individual Case Studies, by organizing local events involving local policy actors, decision makers and the private sector, in order to ensure that eco-efficiency indicators and assessment methods are applicable to the diversity of contexts and sectoral focuses of each;
• At the EU and International level, by organizing large-scale targeted events and the Final Project Conference, fostering linkages with research initiatives, the water research and technology community, and the policy community;
• At the Project level, though the EcoWater External Advisory Board (EAB), which includes internationally recognized experts.
2.1 Local Workshops
The stakeholder engagement process of EcoWater took place through two rounds of local Workshops/Case Study events, held throughout the project, which ensured that a) all project approaches and outcomes were in line with the local context and policies, and b) outcomes are relevant and can inform actual policy decisions at the local context. 14 local case study workshops (involving more than two consortium members and local actors) and several small scale meetings (between the case study leaders and the directly involved actors) were organized.
The local case study workshops were divided in two. The objectives of the 1st Round workshops focused on:
• Demonstrating the relevance of the Project approach in supporting local policy decisions and actions, and obtaining feedback on work already undertaken at the Case Studies, in relation to value chain mapping and baseline eco-efficiency assessments;
• Consolidating the applicability of the employed approach, particularly with regard to economic assessments, taking into consideration the interactions among the different economic actors involved;
• Jointly deciding on the environmental aspects that should be taken into consideration and the technologies that should be assessed through the Project;
• Obtaining feedback on the preliminary baseline eco-efficiency assessment of each case study;
• Identifying stakeholder perspectives regarding economic issues, environmental aspects, and technologies to be assessed; and
• Identifying drivers and barriers for introducing new and innovative technologies.
The 1st round of Workshops also included field visits and joint activities for the familiarization of the Project Partners with the Study areas, and for the identification of the main points to be included in the analysis based on the input provided by the local stakeholders.
The 2nd round of Case Study Workshops was focused on the analysis of socio-technical dynamics of each Case Study and the applicability of the proposed set of actions towards eco-efficiency improvement. It also attempted to summarize the final EcoWater outcomes to local actors and revise the list of external factors (drivers or barriers) that affect the adoption of innovative technologies or actions. The 2nd Round also fostered the dissemination of the Project and its preliminary results to the local actors and provided useful outcomes for the Case Study Development processes and the research activities of the Project.
2.2 Large-scale events
Great emphasis was placed on the preparation and the organization of Large-scale targeted events. These events aimed at the: (i) presentation of the methodology and results of the Project, (ii) development of links with key research and policy initiatives, and (iii) enhancement of collaboration with stakeholder groups. Three major events were organized to address:
• Research initiatives on eco-efficiency and eco-innovation;
• Actors in the industrial sector; and
These events were organized back-to-back or in parallel with other major, relevant events, so as to achieve the highest possible impact.
The 1st large scale targeted event was organized as a one-day side event during the AquaConSoil 2013 conference. The two key objectives of the meeting were to:
• Present Ecowater and expose the project to scientific peers, discussing concepts and results so far;
• Learn from other projects / initiatives to enrich the EcoWater development.
The conference was organized in 4 slots, which were kept independent to allow for the audience to attend only selected sessions if desired. This scientific event has been very valuable for EcoWater. The project received substantial input through the presentations of the invited speakers, and by discussing the specificities of the project with them and among the partners. As a result, strong links were built between several on-going initiatives, including UNEP Resource Efficiency, Eco-Innovera, EmInInn, and the ETV pilot programme.
Towards the organization of the 2nd large scale targeted event, the project sought to develop a significant contribution to, and presence in, a major water technologies fair. Taking the project’s progress and requirements into account, the AquaTech Amsterdam Fair 2013 (described as the world's leading trade exhibition for process, drinking and waste water) was selected for the purpose. The key objectives of the EcoWater side event were to:
• Present the EcoWater project to the water industry, communicating concepts and discussing results so far;
• Develop contacts and links with industry.
The EcoWater Project has put significant effort into connecting to the world of technology providers. This outreach activity has been quite successful. Understandably, only a small portion of the 18000+ participants of the AquaTech Amsterdam exhibition, one of the largest of its kind focusing on water technologies, were interested in meso-level eco-efficiency assessment. Nonetheless, the Project team seized the opportunity to connect to a significant number of industry organizations through the Project booth and AquaStages. These contacts have been kept informed on the subsequent EcoWater developments through the EcoWater newsletter. Overall, the EcoWater Industry Event achieved significant outreach and can be considered successful; it enabled both the dissemination of Project methods and outputs to a wider audience, and the development of new linkages to the industry community. It also provided valuable feedback towards the further enhancement of the EcoWater Tools for improving their usability and applicability in an industrial setting.
The 3rd Large Scale Targeted Event of the Project involved both the organization of a stand-alone, targeted event, and the participation of EcoWater delegations in three major relevant events undertaken by associated projects/initiatives, for the more effective dissemination of the Project to a wider policy (and general) audience:
• The stand-alone event “Roundtable on policy development towards increased eco-efficiency and industrial symbiosis” was held in Brussels, Belgium, on December 10 2014. The event targeted national and European policy makers. The first session focused on the EcoWater project and its results. It was followed by a session organised as a roundtable discussion on eco-efficient technology options and scenarios for water use systems and their policy implications. During this session the moderator facilitated discussions between the panel and the audience. The panel consisted of Robbert Droop (Policy coordinator, Netherlands' Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment), Enrique Playan (Research Professor, CSIC Spanish National Research Council) and Maria Giovanna Zamburlini (Environmental Policy Counsellor, CEFIC European Chemical Industry Council).
• Participation in Water Innovation Europe 2014. EcoWater participated in a roundtable on systemic eco-innovation during the Water Innovation Europe 2014 (WssTP Annual Stakeholder Event). The EcoWater project was presented, focusing on the importance of the systemic approach that is adopted, the involvement of all stakeholders along the water value chain and on the assessment of both the economic value of the water use and the environmental impacts and resource use. In the discussions that followed, EcoWater methodological approach and the developed tools were mentioned as an important step in the direction of being able to model complex systems and interactions. WssTP members mentioned it as an approach which should be brought more into their own activities on systemic eco-innovation
• Participation in the Eco-Innovera Conference. Two representatives from EcoWater participated and moderated the discussion in a roundtable on “Boosting Eco-Innovation through Cooperation in Research and Development” during the Eco-Innovera Final Conference. The objective was to present the EcoWater project to the conference participants (project members of Eco-Innovera funded projects, ministries of research and/or ministries dealing with eco-innovation) and facilitate a discussion on selected issues/questions stemming from the EcoWater project related to eco innovation
• Participation in the IWA Conference and Exhibition. The EcoWater project participated in the IWA Exhibition (as part of the Danish booth) and presented the project to the conference participants, through demonstration of the tools and toolbox and dissemination of initial outcomes.
Finally, the EcoWater final scientific event was organized as a Parallel Event to a relevant scientific conference, in order to attract a larger audience compared to a stand-alone event. To that end, the Project Final Conference was organized in parallel to “The Europe we want”, 17th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production, 14-16 October 2014 in Portoroz, Slovenia, which featured 136 abstracts accepted for oral presentation, 13 of which originated from the EcoWater project.
2.3 Other Dissemination material
A short (3’20”) animation was developed, which can be viewed on the main page of the project’s website (http://environ.chemeng.ntua.gr/ecowater/). This animation follows a story line explaining that increasing the eco-efficiency at a micro-level may render poorer results compared to a more systemic, meso-level approach for which EcoWater developed the analytical framework. The screenshots below depict (a) The added resources that a wastewater treatment plant may need to purchase due to a newly installed digester at an industry; (b) successful negotiation between several partners to jointly invest in an improved waste water treatment plant. The animation was developed by Utrecht Based ‘Creative beards’ in collaboration with artist Maarten Wolterink.
Furthermore, demonstration videos were prepared in order to showcase the various software tools developed by the Project: SEAT, EVAT and web-based toolbox.
In addition, the Project has been widely disseminated to a wide audience of scientists, policy makers, stakeholders and experts, through:
• Four issues of the Project electronic Newsletter;
• A set of three Science-policy briefs, each focusing on a water use sector (agriculture, urban water systems, industry);
• A set of 12 Product fliers focusing on the Project methodology, the developed Indicators and Tools, and the Case Studies.
3 Exploitation of results
3.1 Motivation of Actors – Implementation of Results
In most EcoWater case studies, improvement options had rarely been discussed in multi-stakeholder fora, nor even amongst all relevant parts of the main organisation under study. Not by coincidence, when approached by the case-study team, organisations most willing and able to cooperate with the project had already made significant investment in innovative resource-efficient practices and were considering extra improvements. Motivation for these came from their environmental policies and/or from external drivers such as future higher costs and resource scarcity, often going beyond current legislative requirements.
Each case study stimulated actors’ interest in meso-level comparative assessments of improvement options. Such comparisons helped to structure workshops for multi-stakeholder discussions and stimulated discussion within organisations as well as among them. Such broader considerations have greater impetus and potential continuity during a decision-process on investment priorities.
Moreover, in the Sofia Case Study, the water operator of the Sofia water system has shown great interest in the assessment of the proposed alternative technologies and discussions have been held on a more detailed assessment in order to determine the economic feasibility, before proceeding to their actual application.
3.2 EcoWater Toolbox and other Web based Resources
Among the achievements of the EcoWater project was the development of the EcoWater Toolbox. The Toolbox is a suite of online tools, equipped with a continuously updated inventory of currently available technological innovations, as well as the finalised list of eco-efficiency indicators. It is designed to support the comprehensive eco-efficiency assessment of a water use system at the meso-level, the assessment of the system-wide improvements from innovative practices/technologies, the analysis of factors influencing decisions to adopt innovative practices and to facilitate multi-stakeholder discussions on eco-innovation for process upgrading.
It is important that the EcoWater Toolbox and the supporting Tools, as well as all relevant supporting material (guides, videos, results from case studies) developed within the project continue to exist beyond the life of the project. This is a commitment of the Project Coordinator, who will continue to maintain both the Project site, which also provides links to public Project deliverables, the project dissemination material (Published papers, Newsletters, Science-Policy Briefs and Product Fliers) and other project resources, and especially the developed Toolbox.
The EcoWater Tools and Toolbox are publicly available and all users can register for free to access them at: http://environ.chemeng.ntua.gr/ewtoolbox. The results from all the Case Studies, as well as a technology inventory, including more than 50 technologies, are available. The toolbox will remain online after the completion of the project.
The online repositories of the EcoWater Toolbox will be a significant continuing resource for both project participants and public users (users from industry and SMEs, policy makers, etc.) in the European Community and beyond, potentially:
• Exploiting the EcoWater Toolbox and Tools and the relevant information in future service provision (EcoWater Project Participants).
• Publishing results obtained from the use the Toolbox in scientific journals and conferences.
• Using the Toolbox in educational activities of academic institutions.
• Assessing the eco-efficiency of a system and promoting innovative technologies (new users).
List of Websites:
T +30 210 7723218
T +31 6 513 328 30
Grant agreement ID: 282882
1 November 2011
31 December 2014
€ 3 034 643,13
€ 2 499 489
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 282882
1 November 2011
31 December 2014
€ 3 034 643,13
€ 2 499 489
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA
Grant agreement ID: 282882
1 November 2011
31 December 2014
€ 3 034 643,13
€ 2 499 489
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS - NTUA