Re­gional util­i­ties are ex­pected over the next months to scale up bud­get al­lo­ca­tion on im­ple­ment­ing bet­ter wa­ter tech­nolo­gies and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient de­sali­na­tion in re­sponse to grow­ing de­mand

Utilities Middle East - - 2019 GCC WATER FORECAST -

GCC gov­ern­ments are ex­pected to ac­cel­er­ate in­vest­ment in wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture to stem ris­ing de­mand from a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and mush­room­ing in­dus­tries. Ex­pen­di­ture on new de­sali­na­tion ca­pac­ity is ex­pected to reach $100bn by 2020 ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try ex­perts, as the re­gion aims to in­crease its to­tal sea­wa­ter de­sali­na­tion ca­pac­ity by nearly 40% in the next two years. The GCC’s cur­rent sea­wa­ter de­sali­na­tion ca­pac­ity of ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 mil­lion im­pe­rial gal­lons a day (MIGD) is set to in­crease to more than 5,500MIGD over the next 5 years as the GCC states in­vest heav­ily in in­creas­ing potable wa­ter sup­ply. Re­gional gov­ern­ments will also scale up bud­get al­lo­ca­tion on im­ple­ment­ing bet­ter wa­ter tech­nolo­gies and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient de­sali­na­tion. Planned re­verse os­mo­sis plant ca­pac­i­ties are ex­pected to in­crease ev­ery quar­ter as a re­sult. GCC coun­tries are also tak­ing req­ui­site steps to over­come known chal­lenges of stream­lin­ing pub­lic-pri­vate par­tic­i­pa­tion (PPP), util­i­ties in debt, im­prov­ing ac­count­abil­ity and in­vest­ment frame­work. Tech­nol­ogy is play­ing a piv­otal role in this sit­u­a­tion. The use of ad­vanced wa­ter tech­nolo­gies is at an all-time high in the GCC. The wa­ter sec­tor in the re­gion will shift their fo­cus to­wards sus­tain­able prac­tices, waste­water treat­ment and recycling, with sev­eral util­i­ties and wa­ter agen­cies de­vel­op­ing modern projects that in­di­cate a tech­no­log­i­cal turn­around for the re­gion. In the medium to long-term, tech­nol­ogy adop­tion/up­grade and com­pelling sus­tain­abil­ity tar­gets, to­gether, can help the GCC re­duce the de­mand-sup­ply gap and aid preser­va­tion of re­sources for fu­ture. Over the past two decades, de­sali­na­tion has be­come the back­bone of wa­ter sup­ply and con­sump­tion in the en­tire Mid­dle East and Africa (MEA) re­gion. In­vest­ments in de­sali­na­tion will con­tinue to be on the rise as con­fi­dence in var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies grows. Re­verse Os­mo­sis (RO) tech­nol­ogy will con­tinue to es­tab­lish it­self as a re­li­able and ef­fi­cient tech­nol­ogy for de­sali­na­tion. RO tech­nol­ogy for de­sali­na­tion has over­come the chal­lenges per­tain­ing to pre-treat­ment of RO feed wa­ter, and a num­ber of plants in­clud­ing the new Al Zawrah de­sali­na­tion plant that will utilise Ul­trafil­tra­tion (UF) mem­branes supplied by Pen­tair X-flow. The sys­tem will pro­duce 4783 m3/h of pre-treated sea­wa­ter to feed the RO mem­brane sys­tem. Sim­i­larly, Jubail Sea­wa­ter RO (SWRO) Phase 2 in Saudi Ara­bia, has a de­signed ca­pac­ity of 58,500 m³/day. The plant has dual mem­brane sys­tem with UF fol­lowed by RO and it is the largest UFRO de­sali­na­tion plant in Saudi Ara­bia. De­sali­na­tion po­ten­tial in the GCC is in­creas­ingly at­tract­ing both do­mes­tic and

in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies in the bid­ding process. The Shar­jah Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter Au­thor­ity, (SEWA), re­cently an­nounced plans to de­velop de­sali­na­tion plants, and trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity in sev­eral ar­eas of Shar­jah fol­low­ing a meet­ing with French com­pany SUEZ. Qu­rayyat de­sali­na­tion de­vel­op­ment in Oman was ex­pected to come on­line by the end of 2017. The 200,000 m3/day project worth $250mn, awarded on a de­sign, build, own and op­er­ate ba­sis was orig­i­nally sched­uled to com­mence oper­a­tion by May 2017. Wa­ter pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties will con­tinue to in­crease in the Gulf along with in­no­va­tions for bet­ter wa­ter man­age­ment as de­mand in­creases in var­i­ous set­tings. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of ef­fi­cient wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tems is seen as the best way to sus­tain wa­ter re­source for the fu­ture. Saudi Ara­bia is the third largest con­sumer of wa­ter per capita in the world. In the next sev­eral years, it is also ex­pected to be­come the third largest wa­ter re­use mar­ket in the world af­ter the United States and China, ac­cord­ing to the Sus­tain­able Wa­ter Al­liance. Cur­rently, only about 18% of the 1.84mn m³ of waste­water the coun­try pro­cesses daily is reused. In or­der to tap into this po­ten­tial mar­ket ef­fec­tively, Saudi Ara­bia has made sig­nif­i­cant changes to its wa­ter sec­tor reg­u­la­tory sys­tem to make it more in­vestor friendly. GCC coun­tries will con­tinue to look for al­ter­na­tive wa­ter sources. The UAE is al­ready mak­ing re­mark­able progress in its rain en­hance­ment pro­gramme that seeks to im­prove cloud seed­ing tech­nol­ogy, which will even­tu­ally in­crease the amount of rain­fall. Ef­forts are also un­der­way to im­prove wa­ter stor­age as a boost to re­gional wa­ter se­cu­rity. Through the Aquifer Stor­age and Re­cov­ery (ASR) in UAE, the first man-made un­der­ground wa­ter stor­age fa­cil­ity in Liwa will be filled with seven mil­lion gal­lons of de­sali­nated wa­ter per day. Re­gional util­i­ties will push ahead with their con­ser­va­tion ef­forts in a bid to scale down wa­ter con­sump­tion lev­els. Among other things, Dubai has is­sued a de­cree in­struct­ing dis­trict cool­ing com­pa­nies to re­place de­sali­nated wa­ter used in the process of pro­duc­ing chilled wa­ter, with Treated Sewage Ef­flu­ent (TSE), in DC plants. But be­yond tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ments and gov­ern­ment in­vest­ments in wa­ter re­use, a par­a­digm shift in end-user be­hav­iour is now con­sid­ered es­sen­tial in driv­ing the mantra of sus­tain­abil­ity. Wa­ter ex­perts be­lieve that this can be at­tained through strin­gent gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions on wa­ter use, which will com­pel users to adopt thrifty meth­ods. Sev­eral GCC coun­tries are con­sid­er­ing a re­duc­tion or re­moval of sub­si­dies on wa­ter and elec­tric­ity, while oth­ers have hiked wa­ter tar­iffs to en­cour­age ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion. Abu Dhabi Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany (ADDC) re­cently in­creased wa­ter tar­iffs for do­mes­tic users who ex­ceed the daily con­sump­tion cap. While the stan­dard tar­iff for ex­pa­tri­ates re­mained un­changed at $1.61 for each 1,000 litres, those who ex­ceed the daily limit of 700 litres in flats and 5,000 litres in vil­las will now be charged $2.87 per 1,000 litres, an in­crease from the $2.69 rate last year. Through its new wa­ter tar­iff sys­tem that has been re­vised up­wards, Saudi Ara­bia is also aim­ing to re­duce the daily per capita wa­ter con­sump­tion to 83 litres from the cur­rent 286 litres, which rep­re­sents a 344% de­crease in wa­ter use. “These util­ity re­form poli­cies are grad­u­ally be­ing in­tro­duced in the GCC, and although im­ple­men­ta­tion is still at do­mes­tic level, their in­flu­ence on gen­eral wa­ter and elec­tric­ity use in other ap­pli­ca­tions such as agri­cul­ture will even­tu­ally lead to the need for more ef­fi­cient prod­ucts,” says Vincent Chi­rouze, re­gional di­rec­tor, Xylem, Mid­dle East and Africa. “But gov­ern­ments need to fur­ther review the ways in which wa­ter is be­ing utilised and seek so­lu­tions to en­hance sus­tain­abil­ity by en­sur­ing a more ef­fi­cient sys­tem to lessen wa­ter out­put and im­prove the use of waste­water.” In­dus­try an­a­lysts have es­ti­mated that sewage treat­ment ca­pac­ity will have to more than dou­ble over the next six years in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the re­gion’s eco­nomic growth. While the global re­ces­sion has im­pacted Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries, growth re­mains dy­namic among the GCC coun­tries. De­spite the hur­dle of con­strained gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture in the re­gion ren­dered by low oil prices, and a some­what en­trenched ap­a­thy to­wards im­ple­ment­ing new tech­nolo­gies, there can be no doubt that smart me­ter­ing in the Mid­dle East is set to play a key part in its util­i­ties go­ing for­ward and in its drive for more sus­tain­able en­ergy. There will also be a need to en­gage tele­com op­er­a­tors to play an ac­tive role to sup­port the util­i­ties sec­tor for adop­tion of smart grids. De­spite the slow­down in ac­tiv­ity, ma­jor in­ter­na­tional wa­ter com­pa­nies are keep­ing a close eye on de­vel­op­ments and mak­ing in­roads in the GCC wa­ter mar­ket through man­u­fac­tur­ing set­ups, part­ner­ships, and joint ven­tures. With pop­u­la­tion growth and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion reach­ing un­prece­dented lev­els, more work is ex­pected, from col­lec­tion net­works to treat­ment plants and wa­ter re­use.

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