Blue Economy: Cape Verde wins SEFA grant to develop revolutionary wave-powered desalination system

15/01/2016
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Cape Verde was awarded a US $930,000 grant by the African Development Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) on December 21, 2015 to develop the world’s first wave-driven desalination system. Wave2O™, to be located in Praia Grande, Cape Verde, will operate completely “off-grid” and supply more than 48,000 people with clean fresh water at a competitive cost. The system is expected to have a capacity of 4,000 m3/day of water and will eliminate 5,400 metric tons of CO2 per year.

Resolute Marine Energy (RME) Cape Verde, a subsidiary of the US-based RME and the company which will develop the project, considers Cape Verde’s abundant near-shore wave resources to be particularly well-suited for development of this new technology. RME Co-Founder and COO Olivier Ceberio said, “We have had tremendous cooperation from many people and institutions in Cape Verde and we greatly appreciate their help in securing this ground-breaking SEFA grant, the very first focused on utilizing wave energy for seawater desalination.”

Cape Verde’s access to sustainable water resources is the second lowest of any country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Constant water shortages create stressful living conditions for the entire population. And while Cape Verde has abundant renewable energy resources including solar, wind and biomass, most of its electricity is currently generated through imported fossil fuels. The unique Wave2O™ program will help the country meet its ambitious goal of replacing fossil-based electricity generation with 100% renewable energy by 2020.

“Wave2O™ has the potential to revolutionize the transformation of ocean water into potable water for our growing human needs,” stated Joao Duarte Cunha, SEFA Coordinator. “The system, which is a unique combination of new and mature technologies, harnesses the ocean’s abundant and inexhaustible energy to produce fresh water suitable for drinking and agriculture. The SEFA grant is critical for the project’s success, and will help catalyze funding from additional investors and partners.”

At the nexus of energy and water, Wave2O™ has the potential to not only increase potable water supplies but also to shift energy consumption to other sectors, enabling better management of existing electrical capacity and better control over energy pricing.

RME Co-Founder and CEO Bill Staby said, “We commend the African Development Bank and SEFA for recognizing that our technology can significantly improve access to water and electricity for coastal populations and commercial/agricultural operations in developing countries and island nations.” This revolutionary water production solution is fully in line with AfDB’s commitment to support energy infrastructure, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and access to clean drinking and agricultural water.  The project is also well aligned with the AfDB’s “New Deal on Energy for Africa”, the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI)’s objectives of increasing renewable energy penetration.

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About SEFA Launched in 2012, SEFA is a US $95-million multi-donor facility funded by the governments of Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy. It supports the sustainable energy agenda in Africa through: grants to facilitate the preparation of medium-scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency projects; equity investments to bridge the financing gap for small- and medium-scale renewable energy generation projects; and support to the public sector to improve the enabling environment for private investments in sustainable energy. SEFA is hosted by the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department of the AfDB.


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