Greening the Islands Foundation

Island water supply: from problem to opportunity thanks to new technologies

Economic analysis of new desalination technologies presented at the “Greening The Islands” conference: cost reductions of 65% compared to current practice of supplying water by barge

Pantelleria, Italy, 3 November 2014 – A switch from supplying water by barge to use of desalination systems based on reverse osmosis with a hybrid power supply (diesel and photovoltaic) would reduce water costs by 65%: that would translate into a 16.4-million-euro saving out of the 25 million euros spent each year to supply water to Sicily’s minor islands. That’s the finding of an analysis by Energy & Strategy of new desalination technologies for Sicily’s islands presented during the “Greening The Islands: Energy & Water” conference in Pantelleria introduced by Michela Miletto, WWAP Deputy Coordinator dell’UNESCO last Thursday and Friday.

The study revealed that further benefits could be achieved by improving the island’s water distribution network, which currently loses on average 40% of the water supplied. On top of these purely economic advantages, environmental benefits should be added thanks to the reduction in CO2 emissions from the transport of drinking water by sea and the use of a hybrid system to run the desalination plant. Download the presentation of the study at the following link: Final report desalination System Pantelleria.

Islands tend to have all the right characteristics to be used as test-beds for sustainable energy and water projects and could bring significant benefits in economic, environmental and social terms. However, in order to ensure real results, strategic planning of projects on the part of local government is essential, as explained by Kostantina Toli of the Global Water Partnership: “Any action needs to be well planned ahead of time and integrated into a wider project that considers the broader environmental, energy and economic make-up of the island so as to avoid wasting precious resources.”

The conference served as an opportunity to present examples of best practice from different parts of the world. These included a project from El Hierro, part of the Canaries archipelago, which will switch to 100% renewable energy sources in coming years thanks to the installation of a wind farm and a reversible hydroelectric plant: together, aside from supplying electricity for the whole island, they will provide the energy to run a reverse osmosis desalination plant.

Sharing best practices was a key aspect that contributed to the success of the first edition of “Greening The Islands: Energy & Water”, which is due to become a regular event. “Given the keen interest and satisfaction expressed by our participants, we are already planning a second edition,” explained Gianni Chianetta of The Green Consulting Group and organiser the event. “We’ve received various requests to host the second edition. For the next edition, we will inaugurate a Greening The Islands Award with an international to pick out the best island projects,” Chianetta concluded.

Note to editors:
“Greening The Islands: Energy & Water” is an event of The Green Consulting Group, organised by Let’s Agreen Events with the collaboration of Pantelleria Council, “under the auspices” of WWAP-UNESCO – UN WATER and with the support of various industrial associations from various countries.
The updated programme and supporting material are available from the event website:


GHP is a world leader in hybridization systems for the production of energy, and has been operating for over three years in this market. The founders each have over 20 years of global experience in the energy sector, in both traditional and renewable energy. GHP is a pioneer and has the know-how to find solutions and source technologies to solve customers challenges. GHP is creating systems that integrate renewable power, conventional energy, storage devices and optimization software, designed to provide competitive and reliable energy to grid connected and off-grid customers. GHP covers origination, design, development, construction and operations and maintenance, as well as financing.


SIBA is one of the leading companies in the Italian market for the water integrated cycle. SIBA  has a technological background of technical excellence and high quality in every process and the expertise of nearly 300 highly skilled resources on 3 sites:  Milano, Mantova and Padova. SIBA is the operating company in Italy of VEOLIA WATER SOLUTIONS & TECHNOLOGIES GROUP belonging to Veolia Environnement which has been world leader for the last 150 years in the \”management of the water cycle\” operating worldwide meeting the needs of large and small urban centers and many factories. SIBA offers advanced solutions in different areas and, with more than 900 customers, can boast a widespread presence throughout the country.


SO.FI.P was established in 1987 by a family group of entrepreneurs in the field of energy and desalination of sea water. Today the Company runs the desalination of sea water on the islands of Pantelleria, Lampedusa and Linosa , owned by the Region of Sicily . In 2012 SO.FI.P produced about one million cubic meters of desalinated water.
The company i salso an industrial holding of a group of companies which generate power for the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, Linosa and Marettimo and distributed exclusively in their respective municipalities , under the concession granted by the Ministry of Economic Development.


ACCIONA Agua builds and operates some of the largest desalination plants in the world. The services regarding treatment and management of water supply meet the needs of more than 70 million people in 20 countries.
ACCIONA Agua\’s mission is to be a leader in providing complete solutions to contribute to a sustainable development in the water sector through innovation in design, implementation and management of treatment plants, water purification and desalination.
One of the key factors of ACCIONA is the constant bet on innovation. The Technology Department in Barcelona has focused the activities of Research+Development+innovation in technologies for the water sector. In addition to the main laboratories, there are some pilot plants, where they develop different research programs to study alternative solutions to ensure availability, quality and water supply, going on applying sustainability criterias.


Convert Italy SpA has thirty years of experience in the Italian renewable energy sector.
Convert Italia designs and manufactures technological systems based on energy efficiency and offers customized solutions, effective and reliable for the use of renewable energy sources. The main areas of activity are three.
Renewable energy: from design to construction, Convert takes care of plants for the production of energy from renewable sources such as solar PV to meet the needs of large and small industries.
Energy efficiency: develops and manages projects and facilities for the energy efficiency, operating as ESCOs for a full service and ensuring results at no cost to the customer.
Industrial production: develops and implements uninterruptible power supplies, power stations and single-axis trackers as individual products or as components for integrated systems.
A company of electrical solutions for the global marketplace of Energy, capable of canceling the distance between the customer and the best answer to his needs. History, experience and expertise, combined with R & D and investment in technological innovation make it constantly at the forefront.


Established in 1975 by Lorenzo Belbusti, Protecno has always dealt with water treatment. In few years, also with the incoming of Andrea Belbusti, Lorenzo’s brother, Protecno has expanded to include the building of plants for the treatment of primary and process waters and has become one of the most important Italian companies in the field.
This result has been achieved thanks to Protecno’s reliability and professionalism and also to the usage of the most advanced technologies; the growing integration in the foreign market has largely contributed to the company’s success. Today Protecno is present in Middle East, Persian Gulf, Central America, North Africa, East Europe, South Europ. Protecno has been certified UNI EN ISO-9001 since 1997. Protecno provides: plants: filtration, ION exchange and E.D.I., membrane, chemical-physical, biological and lifting plants; products: equipments, automation, chemicals; services: assistance and management, design and research, outsourcing and rent.
Protecno’s mission is to create solutions, systems and technologically innovative advanced systems and plants that enable maximum reliability and maximum efficiency in the highest respect for the environment.

SMA Group

The SMA Group generated sales of more than €930 million in 2013 and is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV plants. SMA offers innovative key technologies for future power supply structures. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented in 21 countries. The Group employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. SMA’s broad
product portfolio includes a compatible inverter for every type of module on the market and for all plant sizes. The product range includes both inverters for grid-connected photovoltaic plants as well as off-grid and hybrid system technology. The product portfolio is supplemented by comprehensive services and operational management of utility-scale PV plants. Since 2008, the Group’s parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index.


SOPES operates in the area of applied economics and territorial planning, in the design and realisation of waterworks and all-purpose infrastructures, the protection of water resources as well as the management of water treatment plants.
SOPES expertise is organised so as to provide all the services to complete the whole cycle of a project, particularly in the areas of applied economics and resource planning in terms of development. More specifically, the company deals with the different stages of a project, from the identification (i.e. the selection of projects which can contribute to fulfil specific objectives in the development of an area) to the preparation (i.e. economic, technical and financial analysis of the most interesting proposals) and from the evaluation through some cost-benefit analyses in accordance with the conventional standard used by international Organisations when funding development projects up to the implementation. The latter is further divided into operational design, production of documents to participate in tenders, contract award, technical supervision, accounting, inspection services, management and maintenance of the works involved.
The SOPES team has long experience of design, supervision of construction of waterworks and land-reclamation works as well as considerable competence in the management and maintenance of irrigation networks and in integrated engineering services for the realisation and management of sea-water desalination plants, sharing a great deal of its professional expertise with the “Ing. Benedetto Caffarelli” planning office.

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