QED Working Paper Number

One of the most effective strategies to mitigate water shortages worldwide is to reuse the treated wastewater for freshwater production employing reverse osmosis (RO) technology. This strategy is appropriate in urban areas of arid or semi-arid regions as it can provide a sustainable and reliable water source close to the consumers. One of the drawbacks of RO is the high variability of production costs due to the electricity intensity. In addition, depending on the electricity source, it can also result in substantial environmental costs.

This study showed that upgrading pumping and RO membrane systems of a wastewater reuse plant in Cyprus can significantly alleviate these drawbacks in terms cost, water recovery rate, and air pollution. The water recovery rate of the upgraded RO plant increased from 43.2 to 75 percent which results in a substantial net financial benefit due to less quantity of wastewater to be purchased and more potable water to be produced. The upgraded system also reduced the electricity requirement from 3.63 kWh/m3 to 1.92 kWh/m3. Pollution emissions decreased substantially because of the reduction in electricity requirements. The beneficiaries of these lower emissions costs are the residents of Cyprus and global society. Overall, the benefit of upgrading the plant is highly attractive with more than 65 percent of annual real internal rates of re-turn in financial and economic terms. Positive net present values are realized for all the scenarios considered.

Foroogh Nazzari Chamaki
Majid Hashemipour
JEL Codes
circular economy
reused wastewater
reverse osmosis
levelized cost
economic cost
membrane technologies
emission cost
environmental externalities
distributive analysis
energy saving
Working Paper