Hervé Martin, the LIFE Environment and Eco-innovation Head of Unit, presented the winners of the 23 best LIFE Environment projects 2009-2010 at a special awards ceremony, held in Brussels during Green Week 2010. Presenting these awards on 2 June, Mr Martin praised the “high quality” of all the winning projects. He congratulated in particular, the five top projects – the “Best of the Best” LIFE Environment projects.
Following an initial review carried out by its external monitoring team (the Astrale consortium), the European Commission selected the most outstanding LIFE Environment projects completed during 2009. The Member States then reviewed these projects using criteria focusing on their environmental benefit, long-term sustainability, transferability and innovation aspects.
This rigorous selection process resulted in the top five projects from diverse sectors including: wastewater treatment, the production of biogas, technology in cold storage, steel production and the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies for rural development.
Mr Martin praised all the 23 winning projects and their partners for their “excellent work” in favour of the environment. He noted that resource efficiency, water efficiency and the management of waste and water are all themes that feature strongly among this year’s selection and confirmed that these will continue to be, priorities for LIFE+ programme co-funding. The concept of resource efficiency is also one of the three main priorities identified by Janez Potočnik’s, the new European Commissioner for the Environment. (The other priorities are biodiversity and the implementation and enforcement of European environmental legislation.)
In conclusion, Mr Martin said that a key challenge for the best LIFE Environment projects was now to build on this success and to transfer this knowledge to other sectors across the EU.
One project that is already rising to this after-LIFE challenge is the BASHYCAT (LIFE06 ENV/F/000125) partnership project, coordinated by VALDI, a French SME specialising in recycling used batteries and regenerating metals from industrial wastes. Through various complex hydro and pyrometallurgy processes, implemented on an industrial scale, the technology developed offers a viable, clean and long-term alternative to the scrapping of used catalysts. It also presents considerable export possibilities. (VALDI is now part of the French mining and metallurgical Eramet Group, the world’s biggest recycler of such catalysts, with its US subsidiary GCMC.)
According to Lyonel Picard, marketing and R&D manager, the project has had a “significant impact” on both the environment and for industry: He said VALDI’s turnover for 2010 will be €12– €15 million and that the turnover target is €30 – €40 million by 2015. Around 40 people worldwide are currently involved in this project and it is hoped that this figure will double 2015.
HVD (LIFE05 ENV/D/000207) is another ‘win-win’ LIFE project that is already showing continuing after-LIFE success. Project manager, Hubert Schulte, said his company, a privately-owned German SME, was now working on reducing costs for the innovative and more environmentally friendly solutions developed under LIFE, for the cleaning of steelworks (using water under very high pressure). He said talks were well underway with some of the major players in the marketplace with a view to offering the HVD technologies worldwide – for example in Russia, China and Turkey. A new plant operating their technology would also soon be opening in Germany.
Accepting the best LIFE Environment project award on behalf of the whole project team, he said: “We’d like to thank the European Commission for giving us the chance to demonstrate innovative advances even in traditional sectors such as European steelworks.”
EnviFriendly (LIFE05 ENV/GR/000245) implemented technologies to reduce agricultural pollution on the river Evrotas in Laconia, a prefecture located to the south of the Greek mainland. Nikolaos Nikolaidis from the department of environmental engineering, Technical University of Crete (a project partner) described these as “common sense” technologies principally aimed at persuading local farmers (mainly olive producers) to adopt more environmentally friendly farming practices. Such low-cost, low-tech solutions are also easily transferable to other Mediterranean countries.
A major achievement is that the LIFE funded technologies will allow the district to become the first in Greece to have a River Basin Management Plan, as required under the EU Water Framework Directive, and therefore it should also achieve “good ecological status” (good water quality) by 2015. These technologies have also been adopted by other local municipalities. Furthermore, the project team’s participation in the pilot river basins’ consortium ensures the dissemination of knowledge gained under the LIFE project to other EU Countries.
Microphilox (LIFE05 ENV/E/000319) demonstrated the capacity of microturbines to run on biogas containing a methane concentration of only 31% (usually they only work at 40%). Suitable examples could be small landfills, or those at initial or final life stage. The developed methodology for siloxane capture and analysis will be incorporated in project beneficiary CESPA’s protocol for biogas quality control. CESPA currently has 14 landfills with biogas collection, but only nine of these recover biogas with cogeneration engines. In the other landfills, biogas doesn’t meet the requirements for traditional CHP units, so it is flared. The new LIFE co-financed microturbines will be used to produce electricity from biogas at these installations.
WET (LIFE06 ENV/NL/000167) wastewater and effluent treatment technology developed by the project beneficiary, the Rijnland District Water Control Board, is already being implemented at two wastewater treatment plants (Leiden north and Alphen north). Further use of the technology is foreseen at other beneficiary WWTPs and by other water management bodies in the Netherlands.
More information on all the best LIFE Environment projects 2009-2010 is available at the Best Projects section of the LIFE website (with links to project web summaries websites and layman’s reports).
A new brochure, “Best LIFE Environment Projects 2009-2010” will be published in autumn 2010.