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Economic feasibility assessment of solar powered seawater desalination plants: Unconventional fresh water supply for Guzelyurt, Northern Cyprus

Oner, Hüseyin
Water is essential for living beings. Without the existence of water, we would not have existed or progressed. Therefore, throughout the history of mankind fresh water supplies have been considered as a strategic resource for prosperity. Nowadays, many researches indicate that due to climate change, fresh water supplies around the globe are expected to become scarcer and more unpredictable which would eventually become a major challenge for our society. One of the earliest energy sources for desalination or distillation said to be solar energy. Recent technological achievements and diminishing costs in both renewable energy and desalination technologies offers an alternative for potential water security problems. In this thesis, by considering possible water shortages in coming decades, economic feasibility assessment for solar powered sea water desalination plant is carried out as an alternate fresh water supply for Guzelyurt, Northern Cyprus. In Northern Cyprus, which is a developing country surrounded by sea, growing population and depleting ground water resources have always been matter of concern since 1980s. The Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project, which was completed in October 2015, aimed to supply 75 Million cubic meter fresh water annually with submerged 80 km long water pipeline from Turkey to Cyprus through the Mediterranean Sea. This project, which has cost almost €380 million Euros, aims to supply drinking and irrigation water to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for next 30 years. The overall cost of project and true meaning of sustainability is arguable. Would this be enough to combat possible water shortages and droughts that could be caused by climate change? Hence this study intended to investigate and discuss solar powered seawater desalination as an alternate option for the Water Supply Project to provide same amount of water annually to the region using solar energy potential of the island and available desalination technologies. As the Water Supply Project had been completed in the end of 2015, all feasibility assessment assumed to be within the same period of time by using data available for 2016. This allows us to compare alternatives within similar economic environment and ignore problems arise with Lira Crisis in 2018. Equal amount of water, during same time period with identical conditions by using public land and public funds assumed for feasibility study. Results of the study focuses on economic feasibility indicators like LCOW, NPV, IRR, mIRR, Payback Period, DCF and price Sensitivity Analysis. Findings indicate that PV powered SWRO could compete with the Water Supply Project, if supported by the state.