Water scarcity and droughts have become a main concern in the European Union as intensity and extension of such phenomena have been increasing in the last few years. They have direct impact on citizens and economic sectors which use and depend on water, like agriculture. The number of areas and people affected by droughts went up by almost 20% between 1976 and 2006, with a cost of €100 billion for the European Union, and 17% of European territory has suffered from water scarcity up to date. Unfortunately, due to climate change and subsequent environmental problems, this trend is expected to continue. Spain, Italy and Greece, main olive oil producers, are specially affected by water scarcity and droughts, so water-saving technologies will strongly contribute to mitigate the economic and environmental consequences of climate change in rural areas. Improvements to the ALGATEC system are to be implemented during ALGATEC II to minimise the investment and O&M cost of the ALGATEC solution; in order to be competitive in the current market and facilitate it implementation in the producer countries. This demonstration project aims therefore to bridge this gap between research and market, by contributing knowledge to verify the viability of this innovative ALGATEC II treatment solution and decreasing the costs to make it competitive. The participants of this project estimate that there is a market potential of more than 12,000 olive mills in the EU27 which urgently demand a new eco-friendly, low-cost WW treatment technology. Including the demand for low-cost and easy to maintain solutions in the developing countries (such as the new emerging producing countries Turkey, Tunisia and Syria) the numbers will increase significantly. As the market exist the arguments for an improved competitiveness of SME proposers can be summarised as follows:
- the innovative and competitive ALGATEC II system allows the participating SMEs to enter the fast growing market for washing water treatment and reuse,
- the ALGATEC II system demonstrates a clear step beyond the state-of-the-art with the advantage of a self-regulated, low-cost modular system that enables efficient and environmentally friendly treatment of WW,
- during the pilot plant tests the SMEs gain practical experiences and knowledge about the performance of the system under real conditions.
In addition, the end-users which are mainly SMEs, will benefit from an increased efficiency in drinkable water consumption as well as in wastewater treatment and reuse, reducing production costs and therefore increasing their competitiveness, mainly due to the reduction of 90% of drinkable water used to wash the olives.