Privatization & Renewable Energy in the Saudi Arabian Water Sector

The Middle East is one of the most water scarce regions in the world; and Saudi Arabia, the largest arid country in the Arabian Peninsula, has limited natural sources of water. The Kingdom is projected to be among the ten most water-stressed countries in the world by 2040. It currently relies heavily on desalination plants which produce roughly 18 percent of the world’s desalinated water. The sharp decline in the oil price in mid-2014 contributed to the current re-thinking of its oil-based economic model. The Kingdom’s economic strategy is set out in the Saudi Vision 2030 which was announced in April 2016 by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi Vision 2030 is an ambitious plan to end the Kingdom’s dependence on oil by 2020, privatize government assets, and improve economic and environmental sustainability. As part of this ambitious agenda, the Saudi Government has announced intentions to privatize the water sector, to help meet future demand, which is estimated to grow roughly five percent per year until 2030. Additionally, renewable energy initiatives, such as solar-power, are rapidly emerging within the region, and Saudi Arabia intends to be a world leader in the clean energy market. These prospects can open up lucrative opportunities for international investors, but it remains to be seen whether these reforms can be implemented. Continue reading

Environmentally Friendly Desalination Techniques for Omani Farmers & Small-Scale Plants

In the last decade, reverse osmosis (RO) has grown as an alternative to traditional potable water sources. A major disadvantage of the RO process is the huge amount of reject brine and its negative impact as a result of its high salinity. Further research is needed for introducing environmentally friendly and economically viable management options for RO brines. RO produces a clean stream of high purity water, and as well a smaller stream of waste, referred to as concentrate or brine. Brine is a highly concentrated solution of the salts and contaminants separated from the water with the reverse osmosis membranes. Brine requires proper disposal, which many times requires permits or other regulatory compliance actions. There are many brine disposal methods available today, which all have different environmental and capital costs. The common brine disposals methods have their pros and cons. In Oman, due to the increased level of soil and water salinization along Al-Batinah region coast, an increasing number of farmers are using small-scale desalination units for producing irrigation water. Desalination technology remains still an expensive option for agriculture. In addition, it has environmental challenges that includes energy requirements, water quality, and disposal means of rejected brine which end up in many cases by contaminating their groundwater and increasing its salinity. However, it can still be an attractive option for sustainable agriculture if used within specific constraints. Continue reading

US Municipal Water Infrastructure Forecast Reaches USD532 Billion

Capital expenditures (CAPEX) for U.S. municipal water & wastewater utilities – including spending on pipes, plants, and pumps – are expected to exceed USD532 billion between 2016 and 2025, according to new forecasts from Bluefield Research. This new outlook, which draws heavily from planned utility budgets, represents a 28 percent increase over CAPEX during the last ten years. “Our research indicates that the water utility sector has finally emerged from the economic downturn, which undercut public spending in water infrastructure by almost 15 percent from 2009 to 2014,” according to Reese Tisdale, President of Bluefield Research. Continue reading

ACVs Have More to Offer for Level Control than Actuated Butterfly or Ball Valves

As automation and computer control took a foot hold in the operation and control of reservoirs and elevated water tanks, the industry moved the valve control from mechanical Automatic Control Valves (ACV) to Actuated Butterfly and Ball Valves.  The primary reason being that actuators can be controlled by SCADA systems, which have been almost universally implemented in modern water systems. In doing so, many water system managers and operators have stopped purchasing the mechanical “Altitude Valve” which was the standard for many years.   Continue reading

Biogas Comes of Age

Digester methane is taking its place as a mainstream renewable fuel. Today’s fuel treatment and engine-generator technologies help make biogas a highly attractive and earth-friendly energy source for power generation and heating. As recently as 10 or 20 years ago, billions of cubic feet of methane from landfills and wastewater treatment plant anaerobic digesters was flared off and wasted or – even worse – simply released to the atmosphere. Today, this biogas has become a prized source of fuel, and the potential is significant. But while we’re using more biogas – many municipal wastewater treatment plants with capacities over 30 million gallons per day (113,500 m³ per day) now use it to generate power – we’re also making more of it. Growing numbers of wastewater treatment plants feed organic materials to their digesters to boost gas production, and stand-alone digesters that produce biogas from manure, food waste and other products are receiving serious consideration. With this in mind, the time is right for businesses that generate volumes of organic waste to evaluate the benefits of transforming that waste material into fuel.  Continue reading

MENA Region Strides toward Sustainable Water Management in Agriculture

Dealing with water scarcity has proven to be a challenge worldwide. There are now less than 1,000m3 of renewable water resources per person in MENA, as compared to 4,500m3 in East Asia Pacific countries, and 9,000m3 in the United States, according to the World Bank. Competing demands among agriculture, population growth and rapid urbanization are putting immense pressure on the region’s scarce water resources. Consequently, more attention is presently being paid to water saving techniques in irrigation practices. Micro irrigation, specifically drip irrigation, is one of the solutions that countries in the MENA region are currently exploring to promote sustainable irrigation and water management. Continue reading

Saving Energy, Water & Money with Efficient Water Treatment Technologies

In every corner of the globe, from developing countries to industrialized nations, clean water is essential to sustain life. From providing hydration and nourishment, to lighting up our cities and manufacturing goods, water is the lifeblood of human progress. Population growth leading to an increase in water requirements will also necessitate increased energy requirements, and water and energy are inseparable – water is required to make use of energy, and energy is required to make use of water. The lack of technology, poor management or inefficiencies in one area can affect the sustainability of the other. Continue reading

Hybrid Desalination Systems: A Solution to Energy & Environmental Challenges

The hybrid desalting concept is the combination of two or more processes in order to provide better environmental solutions and a lower water cost product than either alone can provide. Early suggestions for hybrid desalination were based upon elimination of the requirement for a second pass to the RO process so that the higher-salinity RO product could be combined with the better-quality product from an MSF or MED plant. This is the simplest application of hybrid desalination. Since then, other concepts have been proposed for hybrid desalination. Today, although RO can produce potable TDS in one pass, blending allows a simple solution where national standards require low levels of boron. The hybrid system received significant attention recently with implementation of desalination and power plants at Fujairah I and Fujairah II in UAE, Ras Al -Khair in Saudi Arabia, SWRO expansion plants in Fujairah I and Az-Zour South in Kuwait and current ongoing competition for hybrid of power and MSF-RO or MED-RO desalination for Az Zour North phase 2 in Kuwait. While various hybrid concepts have been explored, this article focuses on the combination of distillation and membrane processes with power generation and the hybridization with renewable energy sources. Hybrid offers many additional advantages including the opportunity to better align demand for combined water and power production, reduce energy consumption, increased recovery and further minimize environmental impacts of power/desalination plants. With formation of Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance-“H20- CO2” hybrid combinations with renewable energy become focus of extensive research and development. Continue reading

Energy-Efficient Aeration in Focus

If energy-efficient Aeration is not your priority – even when it is well documented that Aeration accounts for a pretty staggering 50-70 percent of a treatment plant’s power consumption – then please, turn the page. Historically, and still to this day – the well-worn ‘handbook’ for determining the SCFM (standard cubic feet per minute) for the use of Fine Bubble Diffused Air Systems in an Activated Sludge Process says something along the lines of: Calculate the air flow required for the oxygen demand. Then, calculate the air flow required for mixing. Use the greater of those two numbers to size your blower. That’s it! But, according to two companies with more than 170 years’ experience between them, it may be time to tear up that handbook, or with more and more treatment plants now on a path towards becoming energy neutral, at least bring it into the 21st century. Continue reading

Industrial Filtration Market Worth USD 30.78 Billion by 2021

Today, countries around the world are witnessing a rapid surge in industrial activities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, industrial water is the fastest growing sector of the global water market. The market for industrial water treatment technologies, as per a GWI report, is expected to be worth more than USD11 billion in 2020. On the basis of technology, the industrial filtration market is projected to grow from an estimated USD22.91 billion in 2016 to USD30.78 billion by 2021, registering a CAGR of 6.1 percent from 2016 to 2021, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. Liquid filtration is estimated to hold a large market share, as it is being widely used for the treatment of supply water in water & wastewater treatment facilities, especially in emerging economies. Continue reading