Improving the resilience of the water and energy sector and fighting supply problems in impacted regions is the goal of Oceanus Power & Water, founded in 2014 in the United States.
Climate change and rising temperatures are destroying the livelihoods of many communities around the world, and threats such as water pollution are becoming increasingly present. The need for affordable solutions to provide clean drinking water and renewable energy is extremely high, especially for island nations or areas hit by natural disasters in order to become more resilient. However, a lot of nations are still relying on more unsustainable supply sources like diesel. Consequently, one of the biggest challenges right now is to make communities more resilient in terms of their water and energy supply for the future.
Oceanus developed an integrative model that combines pump hydro and desalination plants for environmentally and economically beneficial energy and water supply. Their developed system is able to store water and energy and produce freshwater and can be deployed in various locations if adequate elevation is available. By combining the two technologies, it offers the opportunity for communities to receive a more resilient, reliable and environmentally-friendly supply.
Starting the business in 2014, Oceanus aimed to deliver effective energy storage systems in light of the increasing solar energy in California, however, soon realized that a new approach was needed to more effectively and profitably work with seawater pumped hydro. This led the company to the idea of combining pump hydro with desalination plants to achieve greater positive effects for the environment that at the same time also are more profitable and cost-efficient than only employing one of the technologies. Developing this idea gave rise to the Integrated Pumped Hydro Reverse Osmosis Clean Energy System (IPHROCES) in 2016. Following the process of IPHROCES, seawater is pumped to an upper water reservoir only when renewable or excess energy is available and then used to produce fresh water and hydropower. A part of the water goes to the desalination plant without any further extra energy needed due to gravity. The resulting brine from the process is blended with outflows from the turbines, where the energized water goes to produce energy, to decrease the impacts on marine life by low salinity concentration.
The advantages of combining the technologies for more effective energy and water supply with lower operating expenses and higher environmental benefits are big and the system can be installed in various locations if provided with sufficient elevation. By identifying suitable locations first in California and Mexico, followed by Chile, Oceanus led the way to start off with their technology and applied for permission processes. Moreover, the company got its patent issued in 2020 and hopes to start building its facilities in the near future to create positive impacts for communities and the environment in terms of resilient water and energy supply.
Oceanus aims to create more resilient infrastructure in the climate impact investment community and hopes to contribute to the decarbonization and reduction of dependence on diesel of nations that have been suffering from the impacts of climate change and global warming by implementing their more sustainable supply solution. Moreover, they aim to generate impact around the world in the climate resilience business and wish to work together with partners that share their mindset. Ultimately, the company wants to develop projects around the globe and thereby create a positive impact and change.
Oceanus experiences challenges regarding the access of capital since they operate in a capital-intensive sector. However, they do not experience the lack of capital as the main problem but see that the people that manage the capital are not responding to the need of large infrastructure projects. With billions of capital on the sideline for funding, but not geared towards the earlier development stage, there is the challenge of accessing capital in the first stage of the innovation. As the permission processes are long, but no investor wants to support a project until it is permitted, this presents a big challenge for the company. Therefore, they see the community in climate impact investment moving too slowly and the system of investment decisions for large infrastructure as antiquated.
Oceanus is happy to have developed an innovative solution for desalinating seawater combined with hydro pumping, leading to lower operating expenses and environmental benefits in supplying more resilient water and energy supply for communities. Moreover, the company is glad to show that hydro pumping can be made in an environmentally-friendly way and is pleased about getting their innovation patented in 2020.
Oceanus wishes to expand with projects in the Caribbean and Australia, and ultimately hopes to deploy IPHROCES worldwide.