Action 05: Overall evaluation of the pilot system’s environmental and economic performance/ LCA Analysis – Suggestions for full-scale implementation of the solar-driven brine treatment system

Duration: 01/10/2012 – 31/03/2013 (6 months)

Status: Completed

Action 5 was completed in two activities:

Activity 5(a): Evaluation of the results of the system’s operation/demonstration period – Overall evaluation of the prototype system’s economic feasibility, environmental and social benefits – Life Cycle Analysis of the System

In Activity 5(a) the evaluation of the pilot system in socio-economic and environmental terms was performed. For this to be achieved, a questionnaire-based survey was carried out for determining hidden social and environmental benefits associated with the environmental problem targeted (brine discharge into the sea environment). Specific parameters for safety, environment and economy were used for attributing a monetary value. With the help of the "shadow prices" method the three indicators were integrated and provided  an overall "environmental cost" for brine discharge in the target area.

The questionnaires were designed in a way to be easy-filled (open-type questions) and were distributed to the local community in ad-hoc organized events (e.g. educational events, seminars, site visits etc.). Many stays in the island provided the opportunity to talk to different groups of locals around the area of Agios Fokas, where the desalination unit and the brine treatment plant are installed. The vast majority of questionnaires were distributed to the local schools and were completed by the teachers and the students in cooperation with their families at home. The survey was based on the methodology willingness-to-pay, which requires the questioned people to answer if they have the willingness to pay for protecting the local sea environment. In case of positive answer, they were asked how much they are willing to pay for this environmental service. The unit used was €/m3 above current water price. The question was open-type (using some indicative answers) providing also the opportunity to complete another value of own preference. The data obtained from the questionnaires was organized and statistically elaborated. The results from the survey showed that the local community is willing to pay as much as 0.094€/m3 on top of the current water price (that is around 10% increase) for protecting their local environment. Even though this cost is negligible to compensate for the treatment cost of the pilot system, it comprises a significant tariff for the full-scale deployment of the brine treatment system. The feasibility study and the results of the survey are presented in Deliverable 5.1.

Within the context of Activity 5(a), a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the SOL-BRINE system was also performed. This assessment is the full study of the  preliminary LCA of the system performed during Action 2 (see also Section 5.1.2). The results of the LCA produced during Activity 5(a), have been analyzed following the CML 2 Baseline 2000 method. The CML 2 Baseline 2000 Impact Assessment method is based on the classic midpoint indicators. By using a mid-point method, a number of problems and complexities associated with damage methods were avoided. Ten  indicators were used to characterize environmental impacts, namely abiotic depletion, global warming (GWP 100), photochemical oxidation, ozone layer depletion (ODP), human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, acidification and eutrophication. The Life Cycle assessment comprises Deliverable 5.2.

Activity 5 (b): Suggestions for full-scale implementation of the prototype brine treatment system

After the evaluation, suggestions for full-scale implementation of this innovative water technology were studied during Activity 5(b). A feasibility study has been performed where different cost items have been considered so as to estimate the capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the full-scale deployment of this innovative technology. The "environmental cost" determined by the survey conducted in Activity 5(a), proves to be a considerable amount for the capital recovery of the equipment. It was estimated that with the use of this "environmental tariff" the technology can approach nearly current water production costs, while it is estimated that a funding for the development of a real-scale prototype can contribute significantly to the reduction of investment risks and thus provide a near-market water solution.

What is more, certain suggestions for the full-scale development of this technology are provided, mainly for minimizing energy requirements, as well as for improving product quality. These suggestions can minimize or even offset the brine treatment cost, making this technology not only environmental friendly but also a possible new water investment.

This data has been incorporated in Deliverable 5.1.