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Seawater Reverse Osmosis

These Factors Turn Mega Seawater Osmosis Projects into Successes

| Author / Editor: Karen Adler Katzen - First published in PROCESS India / Dominik Stephan

Hadera, Israel - the largest operating SWRO plant in the world with a capacity of 127M m3/year
Hadera, Israel - the largest operating SWRO plant in the world with a capacity of 127M m3/year (Source: IDE Technologies)

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The Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model has for some years now helped many sectors address the size, expense and the long-term nature of implementing large scale infrastructure projects. The article looks at common features that are crucial to the successful development and implementation of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) BOT projects.

The global footprint of large scale desalination plants has been growing. This may be largely attributed to the proven reliability and feasibility of seawater desalination as a source of potable and industrial water. IDE Technologies, a global leader in water technologies and specialists in the development, engineering, production and operation of advanced desalination facilities, has for more than a decade undertaken multiple mega-SWRO BOT projects of progressively greater size and complexity.

The SWRO plants in Ashkelon, Israel, with a capacity of 118M m3/year; Hadera, Israel, with a capacity of 127M m3/ year, and the 150M m3/year Sorek, Israel, are all examples of their work. Most recently, the company has undertaken the design of the Carlsbad, California 204,412 m3/day mega-SWRO plant, the largest seawater desalination plant in the western hemisphere. Each of these projects has surpassed the performance of its predecessor in increased desalination capacity and lower desalinated water prices, raising the bar on these parameters globally.

Benefits of the BOT Structure for Water Management

There are complexities and risks entailed in implementing a project under a BOT structure. However, the model encourages private investment, guarantees lifetime cost per m3 and promotes fiscal optimization by amortizing capital costs over contract lifecycle. It also ensures the achievement of construction and operation targets through built-in incentives or penalties, and facilitates financing through reliance on a guaranteed revenue stream.

Factors Such as Adaptation of Seawater Reverse Osmosis

technology for large-scale plants, advanced energy recovery system, innovative plant design and RO train-size optimization, to name a few, as well as other state-of-theart technological innovations have had an impact on the low cost of product water and are critical contributors to each respective project award.

Technological optimization of design and operation, led by an experienced engineering team with large-scale project experience, defines a successful BOT project. It is also characterized by a good understanding among all stakeholders involved of their respective roles, assignments, commitments and associated risks under the BOT structure. Additionally, a balanced contractual structure, with clear allocation of the identified risks to the party with the best ability and incentive to handle and control these risks is vital.

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