Sustainable Orchards in Desertified Areas-SODA
In the last decades, agriculture losses due to extreme climatological events have grown troublingly. The current agriculture situation in the south of Europe is in challenging situation because, among other factors, rainfalls are less foreseeable and scarcer, the profit margin is progressively lower, and measures to cope with this uncertain scenario is, so far, non-existent. With these conditions, there is a need to look for solutions that will support the consolidation and development of the agricultural sector, essential for the European economy and security, through new coupled energy–water technologies and more attractive measures for farmers to make them independent of any external financial support Alternative solutions are mandatory in order to maintain the economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU–28. This is due to remarkable discrepancies exist between budgeted subsidies and what is effectively obtained by the agriculture sector for some crops. Futhermore, agreements with non-EU countries can be, for themselves, institutional risk factors that might negatively affect the agriculture sector in some EU regions. To mitigate this problem in this project, it is proposed to develop schemes which convert orchards located in arid zones into self-sufficient ones from an energetic and hydric point of view through the use of renewable energy, energy storage and desalination technologies, combined in an effcient way. This scheme will entail the use of renewable energy resources (PV and wind energy) and a storage system based on hydrogen. The storage will allow operation of the system so that it meets usual energy load requirements of the the desalination plant. When there is overproduction of renewable energy and it is not economically appealing to sell it to the grid, energy storage is utilised. This project will analyse the applicability of the proposed scheme from a technical, economic, social, and environmental point of view, especially focusing on the water-food-energy nexus through a systemic approach. The main benefits of this hybrid solution would be obtaining a lower hydric and energy dependency for orchards, the production of water resources in a sustainable way in the agriculture sector, the mitigation of environmental problems associated to traditional fossil-fuel based desalination technologies, and the maintenance/creation of jobs in the agriculture sector due to the profitability associated to the proposed scheme.Therefore, in the case of being successful, it will potentially have a positive repercussion in all of the EU- 28 countries.