9th October 2017 by Vanessa Vivian Wabitsch, Communication Coordinator, Revolve
Global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40% by 2030. Highlighted by the 2015 McKinsey Report, this fact is now well-known but action in terms of water legislation, technology, and consumer acceptance remains to be taken. The first step for water solutions is to recognize the value of water for business, society and the environment in order to rethink the water cycle and create opportunities.
The circular economy is a key topic for water innovation as water is a basic element in the economy and amongst the first elements to be reused. Circular economy solutions could save 400 billion cubic meters of water per year which is equivalent to 11% of the total water demand and 100% of the water consumption in the USA. By 2030, circular economy innovation could double economic profit, grow average income by 11% and reduce associated carbon emissions by 50%, claims Tomas Michel, President of Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform.
Using water as a recyclable good and integrating renewable energies are key to solving water scarcity, increasing energy efficiency and creating local jobs and opportunities for social integration. These elements are closely interlinked with key EU priorities on jobs and growth, investments, the social agenda and industrial innovation, such as the Horizon 2020 ZERO BRINE project that aspires to reuse brine in other industries.
“For driving innovative water solutions forward, we need to work together globally as well as locally – carefully considering the regions.”
Mindsets and practices for change differ from one country to the other but the shifting vision towards efficiency should be shared. The public and private sectors must leverage together the reduction of consumption and increase water efficiency. Working collaboratively and innovatively to overcome the barriers and to create opportunities in the water sector was the topic of European Innovation Partnership for Water Conference 2017 during Porto Water Innovation Week.
Strong business cases are shifting the economy towards greater sustainability. Since more companies are reporting on the financial implications of water stress, water management is a recurring theme to understand water risks and solve major issues by reducing, reusing and recycling water. Companies like Nalco Water, InnoTeX and Acciona Agua exemplify industrial water technologies for efficient management and its reuse, to optimize operations, reduce energy & costs and enable sustainable growth.
Innovative start-ups and projects around the globe are also creating and implementing water solutions. Prizes and competitions such as the SPLASH Innovation Stage at Porto Water Innovation Week 2017 raise the awareness of numerous smart water concepts. This years’ winner Flow Loop provides a sustainable and retrofit showering solution that enables any household to save water and energy without compromising comfort of the experience.
There are many ways to overcome water challenges and one of them is to combine water governance and technologies to assess resources in a timely and efficient manner. Understanding the power of combining data and machine learning to help discover hidden insights will enable better investment decisions. Digital solutions for water is a key priority to implement EU water legislation supported by the ICT4Water Cluster that aims to exchange information, maximize dissemination and exploitation of water technologies and management.
“Social media and serious gaming increases the citizen engagement, assists policy makers to visualize solutions and assists facility managers on improving water usage and consumption”, explains Gabriel Anzaldi, Director of Smart Management System Unit at Eurecat.
For turning innovative water ideas into water solutions of our present and future, joining technology, politics, business and society are essential. If awareness, mutual understanding and united action flow together, water innovations will be a significant contribution to the circular economy.
Coming this winter: comments and editorials on the new EU legislation for wastewater treatment across Europe.