Growth of Desalination
Without a doubt, the use of desalination is rising around the world. The planned new projects in Spain expand the market for Spanish companies. In Algeria, the government, like the Spanish government in the 1960s, is currently acting on the belief that the best way to jump-start the economy is to provide water for private consumption and for industry. To fulfill those needs, Algeria is in the process of 11 seven large desalination plants. Of those, six will be built entirely by Spanish companies.
Many in the field believe that the U. S., which is plagued by water supply problems in California and Texas, is another emerging market. A number of water districts in California are already in the planning stages for desalination plants along the coast, and Spanish companies are eyeing the state as a center of future business operations. Befesa is developing a reverse-osmosis plant on Texas's South Padre Island, purifying water from the Gulf of Mexico. Inima is already operating its first plant in the U. S., a facility near Boston.
Mexico is enjoying the fresh water coming from its first large-scale desalination plant in the resort town of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja California, built and operated by Inima. India's Chennai plant, to be built and operated by Befesa, opens the market there, while many Spanish companies are already in talks with the Chinese government about plans for desalination plants. Israel recently began operating a large RO plant, and Spanish firms are in the competition to build future ones, currently in the planning stages. And Acciona Agua is current building the largest desalination plant in Australia.
In the Middle East, most plants in the past have made use of vaporization technologies, while Spanish companies excel in energy-efficient RO plants. But many new plants in the region are now being installed with RO or hybrid technologies as the price of oil continues to rise. Spanish companies are already working in Saudia Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates and have plans to expand into this market.
While many companies around the world have years of experience in general water treatment, Spanish companies have some of the strongest backgrounds globally in the field of desalination plants. "We want to focus more on desalination," says Jose Maria Ortega, international commercial director of Pridesa, which builds and manages a variety of water treatment and purification plants in addition to desalination. "We think that it's probably the most significant strength of the company and the field where we feel we can differentiate ourselves compared to the rest of the companies all over the world."
According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, hundreds of scientists around the world see water shortage as one of the top concerns in the new millennium. Spanish companies are planning to use their expertise in desalination to improve the water situation for millions of people around the world, by dipping into the nearly limitless seas.