Cost-Effective

Cost-effective systems that will be evaluated by both upfront cost and cost recovery plans.

(All of the proposed criteria sound good/useful to me, but here’s a comment in favour of this aspect…)

If it’s not cost effective then it might not happen. So costs are important.

Cost efficiencies could be sought in the capital (development / deployment) and operational aspects.

Counterpoint: If it can win on the cost-effective aspects it might not need the Infinity Water Xprize.

Water has many uses besides human consumption and a modern society needs to provide for them. Hydrofracking is a good example… Imagine if we could substitute water t good enough for that purpose but not potable and do it at a price that makes the fossil fuel industry indifferent to whether they use this kind of reprocessed water or fresh water.

The changeover goes faster if the solution also turns out to be at a lower total cost.

@akb, @gtparker, @boblf029, @Vesa

Thank you all for your insights on considering cost as a competition criteria. Cost is always one of the most difficult prize parameters to determine. We usually challenge teams on cost reductions for industry specific reasons. In this case, we feel like an affordable system could be necessary to encourage mass deployment of the system and to achieve the desired impact.

@gtparker can you elaborate further on your point?

Hi Caroline,

I don’t disagree with the other comments. Cost is a big factor. It’s so big that often times other aspects (e.g. Carbon Footprint, or Health for example) are given a cost and then the ‘Environmental’ and Social gets projected onto a ‘Cost’ axis. Like a hand puppet’s shadow – you’re losing information about other important aspects.

So the question is, since it’s so obvious – does this criterion add information or encourage an inferior perspective from which to view possible solutions?

Big things that are substantially more cost-effective for single big users get built because it saves them money. The market might be taking it up already or be ready to take it up as required.

I think it’s quite likely therefore we are going to be talking about potential solutions many of which are somewhat more cost-effective, or for which cost structure changes can be justified in light of holistic benefits or savings elsewhere.

If you’re talking about mass deployment – it’s also certainly worth noting that just because something is cost-effective doesn’t mean it’s going to readily get uptake. Efficient lighting for example. But is ranking (all necessarily cost-effective) solutions by most cost-effective then adding value, or is this an education challenge or a financing challenge, or something sort of out of scope?

(Cost-effective and affordable might be a bit different too, no?)

Anyhow, just a few points for discussion.

Cost is an easy concept to define in general terms such as the quantity of goods or services (or their monetary equivalent) one exchanges for the goods or services one desires. But when engaged in a negotiation with a powerful utility or major manufacturer that you want to adopt a new technology it becomes less a matter of what is intellectually correct than what is politically possible .For instance, suppose you want them to use recycled water for mining purposes and they have been using fresh water from a stream or desire to use fresh water . Will they pay the proper price for the recycled water? How should you determine the proper price in this situation? A utility is guaranteed a certain amount of profit in return for being regulated as a public utility. A major manufacturer realistically cannot be allowed to fail because it would be politically unacceptable .Pricing might need to be less about finding the proper level than about agreeing on a process such as payments that change based on usage levels or other considerations.

Ok, so as a quick recap of my deleted post:

I don’t disagree with anyone above. Obviously cost is a huge factor. The point is it might be too huge and too obvious.

For ‘Sustainable’ designs it is often said that Economic/Environmental/Social are the three pillars.

Great. Say you use $ / Carbon Footprint / Human Health.
Now you can also map a $ value to Carbon Footprint and even (rather too easily) to Human Health.

So it’s actually all been projected onto a cost-effective axis. Rather imperfectly.

Now you’re looking at shadows on a wall and trying to decide which is the better sculpture.

Don’t put cost-effective too high too soon.

If something is massively more cost-effective the market will find it already. What we’re likely to be talking about (ranking) is similar improvements in cost-effectiveness and/or changes to cost basis/structure on the basis of e.g. benefits found elsewhere.

Side point: being cost-effective doesn’t ensure mass deployment type impact on its own. Efficient lighting is one historical example.

Agree also with points above

An example of the argument against ‘cost-effective’ : if we consider a location with negative oil prices, you could burn oil to produce heat, from that steam, and then collect purified water.

That would, of course, be terribly wasteful and would be exploiting all kinds of things like not an entirely free market and the effect of local costs and costs not considered etc…

But in Cushing, Oklahoma, today, that proposal is in principle a net money generator – and likely the most cost effective proposal we are likely to see.

@gtparker All water problems we can solve by using Cloud Power & Water by technology of AirHES (.com) - the second (after Sun) renewable power source (~800 TW) and the first source of freshwater (~11 times more than all rivers). Plus ecology. Plus cost-effective. Plus zero Carbon Footprint… However, nobody wants :slight_smile:

This is obviously one of the most important factors affecting the mass adoption of a technology and would be best described as a business case in this instance. This will include the CAPEX (upfront cost) and OPEX [maintainance, utility costs such as energy, consumables such as chemicals if any, waste disposal and etc] of the technology as compared to the cost savings from water consumption bill, wastewater discharge, carbon emissions and/or energy.

@ boblf029, the mining example will apply here. If the technology has a good business case and can can save the mine some money by providing cheaper water and another revenue stream e.g mineral and chemical recovery then its cost effective.

However, (i) cost savings will vary by country, city, industry, feed water source and quality, etc and would be on a case by case. We may need to provide a standard cost of feed water, discharge costs for wastewater, solid waste (sludge) and equivalent carbon emissions. Costs for energy too.

(ii) the CAPEX will depend on the source and quality of the wastewater and the desired reclaimed water quality. This will make looking at upfront payment (CAPEX) alone a bit tricky. An example is that treating mine waste water to potable standard will need advanced treatment such as membrane technologies (reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration) while treating organic effluents maybe easily achieved using anaerobic digestion producing biogas and digestate (biofertiltiser) as revenue streams. It is common knowledge that treatment technologies are dependent on waste water quality and the desired quality for reclaimed water. This can be covered under “safe and reliable water quality” and “Flexible and Resilient Systems” criteria. The latter may nullify the need to define the wastewater source and the former will provide the reclaimed water quality target.

@ gtparker,Good points and I AGREE with you. But I think not to complicate the judging, the zero waste/green/sustainability aspects of the technology can be judged separately under the “Waste and Resource Recovery (Circular Water Economy) criteria” as this will cover the green and associated discharge (sludge, carbon footprint and wastewater) costs.

Alternatively, we will have to find a specific application of choice with specific characteristics and then request for a solution. For example the challenge will request a solution for a village situated along a heavily polluted river with x number of people. The village has no water and sanitation infrastructure and the villagers depend on the contaminated river…

I will be happy to hear your comments.

@gtparker Thank you for expanding on your thoughts further. We see your perspective on cost as a prize requirement and largely agree with you.

@ashton Thank you for your insights connecting different parameters together. It is a bit of a challenge representing the interconnectedness of a prize’s parameters on an online platform format!

What we try to achieve in a prize design is give teams clear but difficult targets without overprescribing the solution itself and you have alluded to numerous context specific considerations when it comes to water treatment and resource recovery technologies.

We’ve been reviewing everyone’s input and votes on the prize criteria very closely and are close to reaching a conclusion on the final prize parameters that we will share with all of you soon.

Thank you @akb, @gtparker, @boblf029, @Vesa, @CloudWater, and @ashton for your inputs on the cost discussion!

Look out for a new discussion this week where we’ll share what the final ‘ask’ of teams will be at a high level and pose questions around how much time we should allow teams to develop a winning solution!

Cost is certainly an important factor in accessibility and wide adoption. I am certainly in favour of infinity water project. However, I think Xprize addressing clean and abundant energy technologies would solve water problem too. The world has no shortage of water but rather clean reliable energy source for water clean up / purification. Let’s solve energy 1st, and almost every other water, environment, climate challenge will be solved.