Cape Verde to develop wave-powered desalination system with SEFA grant

Cape Verde was recently awarded a grant in the amount of $930,000 by the African Development Bank-hosted Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to develop the world’s first wave-driven desalination system.

Called Wave2O, the system will be located in Praia Grande, Cape Verde, and will operate completely “off-grid,” supplying more than 48,000 people with clean fresh water at a competitive cost. The system’s anticipated capacity is 4,000 m3/day of water, and it’s expected to eliminate 5,400 metric tons of CO2 per year.

Resolute Marine Energy (RME) Cape Verde, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based RME that will develop the project, deems Cape Verde’s abundant near-shore wave resources to be ideally suited for this new technology.

According to RME co-founder and COO Olivier Ceberio, “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.”

Along with suitability, the demonstrable need is also great: Cape Verde’s access to sustainable water resources is the second lowest of any country in Sub-Saharan Africa, and constant water shortages create stressful living conditions for the entire population.

Additionally, 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 Wave2O program will help the country meet its goal of replacing fossil-based electricity generation with 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. “Wave2O has the potential to revolutionize the transformation of ocean water into potable water for our growing human needs,” Joao Duarte Cunha, SEFA coordinator, said. “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.”

Harnessing the power potential of both 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.

 “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,"  RME Co-Founder and CEO Bill Staby said.  

Lastly, this water production solution is in accordance 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 aligned with the AfDB’s “New Deal on Energy for Africa,” the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and Africa Renewable Energy Initiative's (AREI) objectives of increasing renewable energy penetration.

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