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29-01-2019 14:44

The Deep-Sea Water Industry

A Circular Economy-Compatible Industry to Address Future Water, Energy, and Food Needs in Caribbean Island Nations.

Access to fresh, clean, and affordable water, energy, and food on island states is increasingly becoming a challenge across the globe. This can be solved by simply observing and realizing that the ocean that surrounds your island is the potential source of the solution to all these challenges. Imagine developing a new economic pillar that can help your island overcome the need to provide these basic needs through a circular and sustainable economic industry or sector.   

Many island nations, such as Curacao, are confronted with significant sustainable development challenges, as their economies are based on the premise of a continuously expanding tourism sector, electricity generation and transport that are mainly or completely reliant on expensive fossil fuels, limited agricultural activities and increasing or full dependency on food imports, no to limited access to natural fresh water sources and expensive water treatment, small scale fishing industries affected by global fish decline, brain drainage due to lack of attractive, progressive and innovating economic activities, among others. These are significant challenges to guarantee a good livelihood for the island community and sustainable development. 
Recognizing these sustainable development challenges, the business community in Caribbean island nations is in the unique position to serve as a key enabler to address these challenges by seriously engaging in the exploration and exploitation of the ocean resources. One very attractive market opportunity, is creating primary and secondary productive activities from Deep Sea Water, (DSW), pumped to the shores and then utilizing this resource in a sustainable manner creating added-value in a circular island economy, while making profit. 
 
What is a Circular Island Economy?
A Circular Island Economy is an island economy that is restorative and regenerative by design; that aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times; that distinguishes between technical and biological cycles; that decouples economic development of the excessive consumption of natural resources; and that promotes economic growth and job creation to achieve sustainable development, (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016)

How does a Deep-Sea Water Industry fit within a Circular Economy?
This industry is based on the objective of closing the loop between an island economy and surrounding ocean water, through the pumping of cold DSW of 4-6°C at 800-1000 m depth to the shore, and circulating this in either closed-loop or cascading systems as means to address among others, energy, water, and food needs in locations where the conditions are optimal, prior to returning the water back to the ocean. Having unlimited access to an eco-friendly and renewable source within your maritime boarders, makes DSWI an island-compatible and self-sustaining economic sector where innovation and sustainability are at the epicenter of all activities within this sector.

Macro-economic and socio-environmental benefits of a DSWI
From a macro-economic standpoint, a DSWI contributes to the diversification of an island economy and helps building resilience to external shocks as most island economies are dependent on a single economic pillar (e.g. tourism) and are highly reliant on expensively imported goods, products, and other resources.

But what makes this industry attractive, is that next to building economic resilience and increasing energy, water and food security, there is a potential for converting island economies in net exporting economies based on production of high-end or value-added products (cosmetics, biopharmaceutical products, bio fuels, and other types of products) using naturally available resources (including the characteristics of DSW) and conversion processes running on an eco-friendly and clean renewable source, which is the ocean water. 

A DSWI represents a combination of sectors and disciplines, not only for commercial and productive interests, but also to contribute with research, development, education, thus the overall science in the use of DSW and other deep-sea marine flora and fauna. In this way, it is possible to attract research institutes and universities to the island to build expertise and launch a knowledge-based sector attached to this DSWI. Such a DSWI with its interrelated secondary activities can employ at least 400 – 600 direct permanent jobs (Sewenig, 2016) and thousands of people during design, development, construction, installation, operation, maintenance, and expansion which can be significant in an island community. 

A DSWI also serves as a magnet for entrepreneurs for the creation of startups, research and development agencies, and investors interested in facilitating the process of transitioning from performing research to commercialization of findings and solutions. The creation of a knowledge hub in the Caribbean will not only promote innovation, but also creation of high payi