Water is a critical commodity for many islands and remote locations. Having a reliable supply of drinking water that is cost effective and environmentally friendly can be a challenge, especially when tourist flows lead to summertime peaks in demand.
These are challenges that Italian company Protecno has successfully helped the islands of Pantelleria, Lampedusa and Linosa face thanks to its reverse osmosis desalination technology. Working in partnership with Spain’s Acciona and Sofip, the group that coordinates the local energy utilities of several islands around Sicily, Protecno has provided these three islands with desalination plants that give a constant water supply at a considerable cost saving.
The new plants have a total capacity of 480 cubic metres an hour, or 11,520 cubic meters a day. That’s helped provide for peak demand: the number of people on Pantelleria alone surges from an out-of-season 7,400 to as many as 40,000 in summer. For this reason, these islands were previously spending 30 million euros to bring water by ship for the four busiest months of the year.
Having a technologically advanced plant also has considerable benefits. The islands previously relied on traditional desalination plants working by evaporation, requiring large amounts of power but having low yields. By contrast, initial indications suggest the new reverse osmosis plants, a technology in which Protecno is a market leader, are using 80% less power than traditional models.
The Protecno plants draw water directly from the sea and work in three successive phases: firstly, pre-treatment with ultrafiltration; next, the reverse osmosis desalination itself; finally remineralisation of the water. The automation solution implemented in the plants, using Schneider Electric technology, allows for data management that is twice as fast as the market standard, leading to a more productive, efficient and secure desalination process.
“Protecno is a company that’s used to challenges,” states Lorenzo Belbusti, founder of Protecno, which has plants in operation in the Middle East, Persian Gulf states, North and Central Africa, Central and South America.