Water Plan – France to recycle its water
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a plan aimed at conserving “Blue Gold”. A special effort will be required of the energy, industry, and agriculture sectors. France recycles less than 1% of wastewater at present, compared with 14% in Spain and 85% in Israel. The French government is targeting a goal of 10% “reuse” by 2030, in particular by streamlining administrative procedures.
In early spring, France is already having to deal with the threat of drought, at a time when water table reserves are at their lowest levels ever. “We have decided to launch 1,000 projects over five years to recycle and reuse water… Ultimately, we want to reuse 300 million m3, i.e. three Olympic swimming pools per municipality,” Emmanuel Macron announced on March 30, 2023.
Recycled water for La French Fab
Although French industry represents “only” 8% of the water abstracted in France each year (excluding water used to operate hydroelectric dams), and only 4% of water consumed, savings are still possible, in particular in the chemicals industry, which currently uses the most water. In China and Spain, Suez recycles water using UV C treatment. These wastewater treatment plants, which are connected to industrial chemical sites, allow recycled water to be directly re-used in the industrial process.
In France, Veolia, the leading water management company worldwide and operator of half of the 22,000 French wastewater treatment plants, equips around 100 sites with a final treatment unit to recycle water for non-drinking purposes (such as watering and irrigation). Each year, 3 million m3 could be saved, and much more in the long run if all stations were equipped with these units.
Greater water sobriety
In the agri-foodstuffs industry, France is banking on innovation with the greentech company Thrasos. The startup raised €1.5 million for the commercial launch of its solution in 2023. After a detailed audit, its software leads to a 40% reduction in the quantity of water used for the Clean-in-Place (CIP) operations of industrial agri-foodstuffs machinery.
France ensures 70% of its electricity production via 56 nuclear reactors, 26 of which operate in open circuit mode, discharging all the water withdrawn into waterways or the sea. The 30 reactors operating in closed circuit mode, for their part, consume 40% of the 1 billion m3 taken, discharged in the form of a white plume. Small Modular Reactors (SMR) such as the EDF Nuward project could be a game-changer. The first demonstrator site is planned for 2030.
The French Water Plan will also tackle the problem of leaks in the water supply network. In France, 1 liter of water in every 5 is lost, adding up to 1 billion m3 a year – so there is the prospect of an enormous project ahead!
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