Title: Hydro-economic assessment of the potential of PV-RO desalinated seawater supply in the Mediterranean region: Modelling concept and analysis of water transport costs
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC109866
ISBN: 978-92-79-77211-5
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 28982 EN
OP KJ-NA-28982-EN-N
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC109866
DOI: 10.2760/8455
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Seawater desalination, although a traditional source of water in arid and water-scarce regions, is receiving attention worldwide due to the growing concern on dwindling traditional water resources. Desalination entails significant energy consumption, which may be unsustainable when the latter is provided by fossil fuels. However, when fed with energy from renewable sources, desalination may become more attractive. Until now, desalination has been regarded as a local source of freshwater for coastal areas or islands, but the mapping of regions suitable to be supplied with desalinated seawater has been seldom addressed systematically. Caldera et al., 2016, present a global scale analysis based on a simplified representation of water demand and energy requirements for desalinated water production and transport, suggesting that desalinated seawater could be supplied in water-stressed regions of the world by 2030, using renewable energy only, at a cost between 0.59 and 2.81 Euro/m3. While their analysis provides general indications at global scale, the specificity of regions arising from topography, the distribution of population and land use may warrant a more detailed inspection. Appraising the potential of renewable energy seawater desalination as a water resource requires quantifying its costs of production (construction, operation and maintenance of desalination plants), as well as the costs of transporting desalinated water from the coastal production sites to potential users inland. In this contribution, we describe the cost elements concurring to the total cost of desalinated seawater, and we quantify the component of costs associated to water transport from a coastal production site to the final users inland. We limit our analysis to the case of using renewable energy, and specifically photovoltaic (PV) energy, to feed plants based on reverse osmosis (RO) technology, currently representing the most common choice by desalination engineers. We develop our cost analysis assuming PV to contribute 100% of energy used in both production and transport of desalinated water. Finally, we outline the envisaged steps towards a prioritization of investments in desalination in the Mediterranean.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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