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Eco-friendly and scalable seawater desalination container to secure water supply for agriculture and food production in the Mediterranean area

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Water4Food (Eco-friendly and scalable seawater desalination container to secure water supply for agriculture and food production in the Mediterranean area)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2017-02-28

The total global water demand is expected to rise by 35–60% until 2025 compared to the level of the year 2000, and could then double by 2050. Already today, Europe’s Mediterranean regions suffer from water scarcity and thereof foremost the food sector, accounting for 80% of freshwater demand while representing a decisive economic factor in that regions. Depending strongly on secure and sustainable water supply, green technologies for water treatment are needed to safeguard its economic prosperity.
Against this background, WTS has developed an innovative, energy-efficient and sustainable technology for decentralised seawater desalination to generate high-quality potable water cost-efficiently (by using special high performance heat exchanger technology, imitating a weather-lifecycle) and environmentally-friendly (using waste heat as energy input and avoiding salt pollution). The system is portable and easily scalable.
The project objectives were to assess the technical and economic feasibility of the demonstrator for food production applications in the target markets and to elaborate the business plan. This included:
• the identification of local business partners and pilot customers in the Mediterranean target regions, their infrastructures and available energy sources;
• the assessment of requirements of upstream and downstream processes;
• the evaluation of target market volumes and investment/growth potential via a detailed market study;
• the assessment of technical norms and country specific regulations of target markets;
• conducting a risk assessment and developing a dedicated commercialization plan.
The WTS technology will be used in the Mediterranean coastal areas and islands.
The global capacity of desalination plants is expected to grow with a CAGR of 11%. The project helps safeguard sustainability and secure food production in the Mediterranean countries and other water stressed regions. Objective is to assess the technical feasibility of Water4Food in relevant industrial environment as well as the economic justification in the first target markets (Greece, Cyprus, Malta).
The SME Instrument Phase 1 of the project has been successfully finished after 6 months by the end of February 2017. The business plan has been sharpened and the technical and economic feasibility has been proven. The WTS desalination technology is a simple and easy to implement technology, with the possibility of local support and maintenance, even in locations with low-level technical infrastructures. The Mediterranean region had been selected as the pilot market for the project due to its permanent deficient water supply balance, high water and energy cost at the islands, and a need for the reduction of adverse environmental effects through desalination. The most important benefits derived from this project are the detailed analysis of the market size in the target market Greece and the identification of pilot customers. The work performed included the following activities:
• A market and competitor analysis was carried out for Greece, where WTS has identified strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors, in order to form a strategic marketing for Water4Food technology. The major players offer large scale desalination solutions, based on reverse osmosis technology, with the well-known negative environmental impacts and with high operating costs.
• The main actors and stakeholders in the Greek market have been identified for further business and cooperation purposes.
• The interest in the technology has been confirmed by the market. Two potential pilot customers have been identified to realise a future demonstration project.
• WTS finalized a study on relevant national regulations wrt the installation of desalination plants in Greece.
• WTS applied for further patents to protect the technology.
• The technology was brought to a higher maturity level. Technical improvements are based on market feedback.
Concluding, WTS offers a technology with substantial and sustainable competitive advantage against the main competitors, which is promising a long-term profitability and a dynamic entry into the Greek market. At the moment, there is no other technology available, which combines cost effectiveness (investment and operation), zero environmental impacts and option for operation with waste heat from existing plants or renewable energy sources.
WTS will continue and further exploit the technology with one pilot customer in Greece. The interest in the target market is large, because Greece is 31st in top 50 countries with severe water stress. Especially the islands suffer from water scarcity. Agriculture and food production is the main factor in water consumption along the Mediterranean coasts and islands, counting for 80% of all freshwater abstractions in Southern Europe. Water demand could rise by over 30% by 2030 according to an EEA report. Desalination plants have become the only water supply option in many arid and coastal areas, where freshwater sources are already overstrained. WTS technology brings a sustainable and environmentally-friendly solution to the market to safeguard future business and living in these areas.
Schematic principle of the hybrid condensation technology