Wind energy and photovoltaics can be combined in different ways and contribute to the reorientation of ecosystems. Cost considerations and opportunities have changed. Various national economies worldwide are working on integrating these new methods of energy production into their systems in a way that makes sense from both a social and a microeconomic point of view. In many places, such projects continue to progress slowly and do not yet allow the economy and ecology to harmonise as desired.
Quality of life and health are two factors that relieve the systems of modern societies significantly, and sustainable, flexible and collaborative modes of working effectively dampen inflation. It is less about a lack of workers and more about a willingness to change. However, improvements are continuously being made with regard to the latter, so we can and should dare to look to the future with optimism.
In science, biomimetics refers to technological sources of inspiration from nature; by imitating certain natural phenomena (birds in flight, termite mounds and burrs), many challenges could be overcome, and practical inventions could be made and put into effect. Examples include aeroplanes, green buildings and Velcro.
Thanks to this innovative technology, salt water can be used to grow crops. It could also be used to attempt to regenerate infertile soils. In addition to reclaimed water, which can be used for irrigation, the distillation platform also produces table salt.
The Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) in Oman provided Planet with USD 90,000 (EUR 75,000) to support the development of technology designed to strengthen the environmental conditions in the Middle East.
Europe is also facing significant challenges such as dry zones, problematic cultivation methods and wasted resources such as water.
We are also considering how we might use the Mangrove Still technology platform and other Planet/HYDROUSA demonstration plants in Europe.
Mangroves nourish and provide shelter for flora and fauna. They act as natural control systems that, if grown over the long term, protect against floods and hurricanes, limit soil erosion and serve as biofilters for water. Although mangroves currently only cover 0.1 per cent of the earth, they store and convert more carbon than any other forest tree species and contribute to the fight against climate change.
Mangrove forests grow best in rainy and warm regions. The trees are tied to regions of the earth where their period of activity is not interrupted by cold-induced leaf shedding. It is therefore impossible to establish mangrove forests in, for example, Switzerland or warm but dry areas of the Iberian Peninsula.
Nevertheless, in addition to the Mangrove Still demonstration site on the Greek island of Tinos, Planet/HYDROUSA has five other demonstration sites with various promising pilot projects.
The demonstration plant on the island of Lesbos is a future-oriented example. Sewage sludge is converted into an innovative compost cultivator and, together with water that has been treated and confirmed to be free of pathogens, used to nurture a 10,000-square-meter tree, shrub and herb plantation.
On the island of Mykonos, on the other hand, a rainwater collection system is being used to green a formerly remote, dry hill. Oregano now grows there and is used for the production of essential oils.
Persistent heat and extreme drought in the Mediterranean region and on the Iberian Peninsula could also affect tourism in the long term. The practice of rationing drinking water last seen during the 1990s in Italy and Spain could be called upon once more.
Associated pilot projects from the organisation Planet / HYDROUSA sound very promising. On Mykonos, for example, rainwater is collected from the roofs of houses and used for domestic purposes such as flushing toilets and replenishing groundwater sources for irrigating lavender fields. The rationing of drinking water can be avoided if drinking water is not used for household applications.
Green spaces should be preserved. It is crucial to use the resources we have wisely and thoughtfully and to create new green spaces, even where there were none before, such as on flat roofs. Every year, 970 million tons of soil are washed away in the European Union, which corresponds to soil loss that is around one meter deep in the area of Berlin. More than half of the lost territory is farmland. Forests, on the other hand, are better protected against erosion.
- Mangrove trees grow in salt water and are the first plant species to colonise desolate coasts, as they can desalinate water.
- While growing, mangroves create favourable conditions that allow other plants and creatures to thrive. Collectively, mangroves gradually build a complete ecosystem where one did not exist before.
- The Mangrove Still technology platform, based on the mangrove model, was developed by HYDROUSA project partner Planet.
- EU-funded project HYDROUSA (Demonstration of water loops with innovative regenerative business models for the Mediterranean region)
More information about the project and the future: