Released under the GIC Framework
Paris, December 21, 2005
Veolia Water announces the start up of the Ashkelon Seawater Desalination Plant, south of Tel Aviv (Israel). With a daily production capacity of 320,000 cubic meters of drinking water (that is 108 million cubic meters a year), it is the world's largest desalination plant using reverse osmosis technology.
The 25-year contract was signed in September 2001 with Veolia Water and its Israeli partners, following an international call for tenders published by the Israeli government. The contract covers the finance, construction and operation of the desalination plant, and represents for the consortium total cumulative sales for the term of the contract of around 1.5 billion euros.
The plant, designed and built by Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies and its Israeli partners, is comprised of two parallel treatment units each of which has an annual production capacity of 54 million cubic meters (to put this figure into perspective, 108 million cubic meters is the annual water consumption of a population of 1.4 million). The first stage has been producing drinking water since the end of September, while the second stage, currently in the delivery phase, will be operational by the end of December 2005.
For Veolia Water, the Ashkelon Plant is a decisive step towards the recognition of the company's expertise in the area of seawater desalination, using either membrane technology, of which Ashkelon is the world's largest reference to date, or the thermal process, another technique in which our Group has been the leader for the past few years, and which is widely used throughout the Middle East stated Antoine Frérot, General Manager Veolia Water.
The drinking water produced at the Ashkelon Plant is of extremely high quality. Gradually desalinated as it passes through 32 reverse osmosis modules, the dissolved salt concentration at the plant exit is 30 mg/l, compared with 35,000 mg/l in the raw water pumped from the sea (the maximum concentration for water for human consumption is 400 mg/l). The water, produced at a highly competitive price (0.50 euros per cubic meter), is entirely purchased by the Israeli State. It is used to supply drinking water to southern Israel.
Worldwide, just 1% of drinking water is produced by desalination, even though almost one quarter of the world's population lives within less than 25 kilometers of the coast. Seawater could become one of the main alternative sources in the decades ahead. Its desalination is a priority area of research and development for Veolia Environnement.
« The main areas of R&D for desalination by reverse osmosis are the seawater's pretreatment to limit membrane clogging, and the effort to reduce energy consumption which will further cut the cost of desalination - already reduced by a factor of four in the past decade - to help contribute to sustainable development through improved environmental outcomes explained Michel Dutang, Veolia Environnement's head of Research and Development.