What is the INES project about?
Based on the conclusions of the meeting held in Brussels on the 27th of April 2010 and its follow up meetings in Oslo, Barcelona, Singapore, and in Brussels, the Integrated Network for Energy from Salinity Gradient Power (INES) project is designed in order to enhance the development of salinity gradient power and the visibility of this innovative renewable energy production technique.
INES’s purpose is to try to find and develop solutions to the common problems identified as crucial to the sector at the inception meeting, including fouling, investigating financing possibilities for pilots and demonstration projects, solutions for water pre-treatment, ecological aspects and permitting. Additionally, it is intended to contribute to the further development of the sector and to bring membrane producers, developers, investors, and other potential funding organisations, together with international, European, national and regional authorities. It is the aim to create a better mutual co-operation.
The approach aims at contributing to the further development of the sector, by giving an extra boost to market development and assembling the actors in the field. The final aim is to develop pilot plants in collaboration with INES partners.
The INES project is particularly focused on sharing knowledge on salinity gradient power techniques. Pressure Retarded Osmosis (PRO), Reverse Electro Dialysis (RED) and Capacitive mixing (CAPMIX).
Regarding the European authorities, this exercise is also aimed at bringing salinity gradient to the attention of the new European Innovation Agency, the relevant European Topic Centres (for example DG Research, DG Region, DG Environment), as well as to International Bodies. INES will help making this technology more known by co-operating with key international agencies.
Additionally, INES gives the opportunity to reach out to transatlantic international centres developing salinity gradient power.
The collaborative network approach (in which IMI has more than 10 years of experience) significantly reduces the research costs and helps its member in finding quick and accurate information.
The INES project would match the needs of Salinity Gradient development projects:
Firstly, exploration of innovative salinity gradient energy production that involves identification of both RED and PRO opportunities, feasibility studies for selection of appropriate sites, exploration of EU funding options and exchange of information regarding site selection and/or demonstration of hardware installation.
Secondly, supply chain and industry involvement and assessment of effects on ecological and environmental values in the perspective of large scale plant implementation. Considering barrage opening, brackish water release, water pumping, fouling of membranes, monitoring of ecological and environmental effects; this theme focuses both on PRO and RED techniques. Important point under this theme includes the operationalisation of the use of the principle `Building with Nature´ in relation to other renewable energy plant solutions.
The contribution from the partners in this phase is particularly, a (if desired) participation in the two seminars per year and participation in the orientation board for the special actions and products held in the INES Group. All other organisational aspects, as preparation of the meetings, reporting etcetera, are being provided by IMI.
In the INES project, the research areas will be oriented on the following topics:
- Exchange of information on technical aspects and solutions for energy generation and water pretreatment, fouling of membranes and their cleaning.
- Exchange of information on anticipated environmental issues and their mitigation measures (brackish water release, fish impingement…)
- Exchange of information on feasibility studies, methodology for site selection and EU and International regulation related to protection of water and estuaries.
- Financial aspects relating to the construction and operation of a salinity gradient power plant return on investment rates and regional incentives for installing salinity gradient: feed in tariffs and sources of financing.
- Development of common standards on performance measurement of membranes – outcomes of scientific research e.g. on the pressure that membranes can sustain – since currently they are not comparable due to differences in measurement