Ecological Management Foundation believes that within the next 10 years, desalination installations will increasingly and substantially deliver high quality water in a manner economically and ecologically superior to that delivered by further conventional investments.
The common view, still very much engrained in people’s minds, is that desalination is too expensive, too fossil energy intensive, technically complicated and environmentally unfriendly. In the NGO world it is regarded as a technical fix and hence inappropriate.
Policy makers tend to take the view that after raising public awareness to the scarcity of water for decades, opening up the enormous water resources of the world’s oceans would have an extremely counterproductive effect on water saving practices.
What these policy makers do not seem to realize is that over the last five years, desalination technologies have vastly improved with respect to cost, energy use and source and environmental effects, while conventional water procurement and treatment of water from rivers, lakes and groundwater have steadily become more expensive and environmentally harmful. Marginal conventional cost prices will cross desalination cost prices within 10 years from now.
From 1995 to 2005 EMF worked on the Memstill desalination technology, based on membrane distillation, with the following consortium.
In 2007 the Keppel Group in Singapore and Aquastill in The Netherlands started preparations for commercialisation.
In 2006 EMF joined the Voltea team, a Unilever Venture based company (www.Voltea.com), which was working on a new desalination technology, now known as Capacitator De-ionisator (CapDi). The CapDi technology, invented by Marc Andelman in the USA, is removes ions (i.e. dissolved salts such as sodium, calcium, chlorine, nitrate and arsenic) from a variety of water sources ranging from tap to brackish ground water. The technology uses little electricity, has high water recovery a nd does not need any chemical regeneration. In 2012 Voltea is set to enter the market place in Europe and USA for industrial and commercial applications and in Asia for village use, as in Bangladesh. Read more about the Bangladesh project.
Social impact investing is on the rim to become main streamed, this will take another 3-5 years, but the trend is clear: more and more high net worth individuals prefer to invest instead of donate, taking a more business wise approach. Investing in Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) is a clear example impact investing pays off, from a financial point of view. However the social and environmental impact of commercial operating MFIs' is not a given fact of their business. Most of these institutes realize they have to improve, so why don't MFIs' invest in water and sanitation?More »