Abengoa

AquaVenture Holdings Limited, Florida, USA, about to purchase majority of Teshie-Nungua Desalination Plant of Abengoa’s subsidiary Befesa Desalination Developments Ghana Limited (BDDG)

AquaVenture Holdings Limited, a water solutions company based in Florida, United States of America, is set to purchase majority shares in the Teshie-Nungua Water Desalination Plant. According to available information, the transaction is structured as the purchase of the entire share capital of Abengoa’s subsidiary that holds a 56% economic interest in Befesa Desalination Developments Ghana Limited (BDDG), the Ghanaian company that owns the plant. According to PRNewswire, which broke the news on Thursday, “The base purchase price for this interest is approximately $26 million, subject to adjustment in accordance with the purchase agreement.” It adds that completion of the purchase is expected to occur by the end of the second quarter of 2018. The Desalination Plant has been shut down for weeks now since an order from government, prompted by claims that the plant was being run at a loss. The main claims are that the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) makes payments of around GHC8 million a month to the investors of the project, but makes a paltry GHC2 million by supplying treated water from the plant. This culminates in losses of up to GHC6 million every month.  AquaVenture Holdings Limited, which calls itself a leader in Water-as-a-Service (“WAAS”) solutions, indicates on its website that it was set up in 2006 and has since been a leader in the water market. In its 2016 annual report, in which it reports rising profits, the company lists that it currently operates ten water treatment facilities in the Caribbean and South America, of which six exclusively provide water to the local government or government-owned utility companies and four serve industrial and commercial customers. “We are a leading provider of water to the Caribbean market, where we are presently the primary supplier to the United States Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands. We also maintain significant plant operations in Trinidad, Curacao and Peru.” The emerging details indicate government is aware of the transaction although Business Day has not been able to secure confirmation from government officials. But according to Doug Brown, Chairman and CEO of AquaVenture Holdings, “We are excited about this project. This will be our first desalination plant in Africa. The acquisition will expand our base of facilities that provide WAAS solutions to our customers. We look forward to working with the project stakeholders in completing the various conditions to closing and becoming a long-term partner to the Government of Ghana for water treatment and services.” Brown is said to have a track record of delivering shareholder value. In December 2016, desalination.biz reported that “When he joined water technology and engineering firm Ionics as chief executive in 2003, the struggling business was trading at $16 a share. … Facts available on the plant are that in 2011, the Government of Ghana awarded a contract to BDDG for the establishment of the sea water treatment plant to produce clean water, which will be channeled into the pipelines of GWCL. Messrs Befesa Limited, an engineering firm, was contracted by the government to build the desalination plant, operate to defray its cost, and hand over to the GWCL after 25 years. “The project was executed by Abengoa, a Spanish company, and Sojitz Corporation, Japan’s largest importer of rare earth metals,” said a Citifmonline publication. Other details are that the two hold a 94% equity in the project but BDDG is a joint venture of Abengoa Water Investments Ghana, Daye Water Investment (Ghana), and their local partner Hydrocol. In the details concerning the transaction released by AquaVenture, the company said it was purchasing a majority interest in a desalination plant in Accra that has the capacity to deliver approximately 18.5 million gallons (60,000 m3) per day of potable water to Ghana Water Company Limited (“GWCL”) under a long-term, U.S. dollar denominated water purchase agreement. It said political risk insurance is provided to the project lenders and project equity sponsors by Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a division of the World Bank. The facility has been operational since 2015 and, through its customer, supplies water to approximately 500,000 residents of Accra.

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Teshie, Nungua residents struggle for water – Ghana

Residents of Teshie, Nungua and other surrounding communities have expressed their dissatisfaction at the quality and consistency of water supply to the area following the shutdown of the desalination plant by the Ghana Water Company. According to them, they received water two or three days in a week and it comes at dawn making life unbearable for them. Others also complain bitterly about the quality of the water, lamenting that it has a brownish colour with an unpleasant smell and poses serious health risks to them. The Ghana Water Company directed the shutdown of the plant effective January 1, 2018 for the renegotiation of the contractual agreement between the company and the managers of the plant, Messrs Befessa. The statement further indicated that the Accra and Tema Booster stations will serve as alternative water sources for the affected areas. Some of the affected areas include Teshie, Nungua, Sakumuno, Laashibi, Communities 16,17 and 18Adorgono, Baatsona, Coastal Estates, Greda Estates, Regimanuel Estates, all of Spintex Road and surrounding communities. ABOUT THE DESALINATION PLANT – The Accra seawater desalination plant is located at Nungua in the Kpeshie district and is the first desalination plant built in Ghana.The plant started commercial operation in March 2015 and was officially inaugurated in April 2015. The $125m project has a capacity to desalinate 60,000m3 of sea water daily providing fresh water to more than 300,000 people in various municipalities of the Greater Accra administrative region. It marks a significant step in improving drinking water facilities in the country, which is witnessing rapid population growth. The plant was designed, constructed and is being operated by Befesa Desalination Developments Ghana, a joint venture of Abengoa Water Investments Ghana, Daye Water Investment (Ghana), and local partner Hydrocol. Befesa operates and is supposed to maintain the plant for 25 years. Construction started in November 2012, creating 400 direct and indirect jobs in the region. Citi News’ Anass Seidu visited some of the affected areas and filed this report.

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Souss Region Farmers Contribute to Building of World’s Biggest Water Desalination Plant Chtouka – Agadir- Morocco

Local farmers in the Souss region are financially contributing to the building of the world’s biggest water desalination plant whose water will help irrigate the plains of Chtouka. The farmers are contributing €1000 (10,000 dh) per each hectare in an unprecedented success story of the public-private partnership in Morocco, local media reported. The contributions will be collected upon the accomplishment of the desalination plant in 2020. The plant will be built by Spanish company Abengoa near Agadir for a total cost of €309 million. The new facility will desalinate 275,000 m3 of water per day with a possibility to expand production to 450,000 m3/day. The plant will be powered by the Noor Ouarzazate solar plant through high-tension wires and will provide water for irrigation and drinking in the Souss-Massa region where demographic and urban growth has increased demand on water. The project will also alleviate pressure on the region’s two major dams: Moulay Abdellah and Abdelmoumen, which provide 80% of water needs in the region. Underground water, for its part, represents 20% of water consumed in the region. This project is supported by Moroccan Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE), the Ministry of agriculture & rural development and the ministry of waters and forests.

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Scientists are looking for new ways to desalinate water using energy resources that reduce dependence on dwindling fossil fuels

The Middle East relies heavily on fossil fuels to drive modern desalination technologies that are used to grow food. Currently only 1 percent of desalinated water comes from renewable resources.  Intermittent or low energy supplies are a problem for agricultural settings, where grid networks may not always stretch. Better ways to capture and store renewable energy resources could increase the sustainability of using desalinated water, making it cheaper and easier to use.  “This is a moment of innovation. You can see that in Saudi Arabia, in Oman, in the Emirates and Qatar and in North African countries. New practices and policies are being developed around water,” said Shannon McCarthy, General Secretary of the International Desalination Association, who has worked extensively in the Middle East throughout her career. Solar energy is a particularly attractive option for an arid region like the Middle East with a reliable supply of sunlight.  Solar energy has been a key area of research in Oman, where the Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC) is based. The Research Council, Sultan Qaboos University, the Omani Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and MEDRC have installed a desalination unit powered directly by photovoltaic solar panels to treat brackish water irrigation purposes.  The unit contains 20 solar cells and can produce up to 3,000 gallons of water per day, brines are treated in evaporation ponds close the to the desalination system. MEDRC aims to organize a workshop in small desalination units for agriculture sustainability in March 2018, mainly for Omani farmers. Other autonomous photovoltaic reverse osmosis plants are operational on small scale in remote areas of Morocco and Tunisia, and on medium scale in combination with MED/MSF at Umm Al Nar Abu Dhabi and Layyah in Sharjah.  The King Abdullah Initiative for Solar Desalination at Al Khafji Saudi Arabia, set to become operational by 2020, is the largest plant to date. It will produce 60,000 m3/day using polycrystalline photovoltaics and reverse osmosis. The design of this plant is decoupled: RO will be fuelled by energy from the grid, and the solar panels will feed back to this grid. It is expected to reduce costs to as little as 3-4 cents per kilowatt hour. In November, recent tenders for the new 300 megawatt solar powered plant at Sakaka Al Jouf brought in bids at a record low of under 2 cents per kilowatt hour among the three top competing companies. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar — which hosts a sustainability research institute and the UAE’s first carbon-free city — eventually won the bid at 1.79 cents per kilowatt hour. “The question for the future is not about whether fossil fuels will be expended, but whether they are competitive at this price,” says Carlos Cosin, treasurer of the IDA and CEO of Almar Water Solutions, a Spanish company focused on sustainable development in the water sector. “We will see in the coming years a big revolution in the sector.” Masdar has since 2013 developed research partnerships in renewable desalination technology with four commercial partners — Abengoa, Suez, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems. Results of the pilot phase are yet to be announced but three solar collector systems were installed in 2017 to evaluate their suitability for the provision of low temperature process heat for desalination. For Cosin, who is the former CEO of Abengoa Water, the future is about solar. The resource’s major drawbacks — intermittent supply, and lack of storage capability — will be solved, he says, in the next five years by improvements in batteries and salt storage.   – Geothermal – a new frontier – Of increasing interest in desalination is geothermal energy, which would provide a constant source of stable ‘base-load’ power for continuous, long-term periods. It could be used directly for membrane distillation, while thermal distillation like MED and MSF could be powered using the electricity it generates. To date there is no industrial scale geothermal desalination plant, but it is a mature technology that has been used for generating electricity in Italy, Iceland, China, New Zealand and beyond. “The world is producing about 12,000 MWe of electricity from hydrothermal power only, why not use it in desalination,” says Dornadula Chandrasekharam, geothermist and visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India. Now adjunct professor at King Saud University, Chandrasekharam has analysed the opportunities of tapping geothermal systems from Saudi Arabia. The hot springs and radiogenic granites in the west provide huge potential. “Immediately Saudi Arabia can develop 40 MWe [about 254 million kWh] from just two thermal springs — Jizan and Al Lith,” he says. If you translate that into desalinated water for say, wheat production, assuming 5700 kWh is for one tonne of wheat and 5.6 tonnes are grown per hectare, about 20 hectares can be brought under irrigation. That’s 120 tonnes of wheat.  Combining high temperature (above 150 degrees Celsius) geothermal energy with a big industrial scale technology, such as hybrid MED-MSF would bring the cost of one metre cube of this water to less than 1.5 Euro, Chandrasekharam says. Tapping the high resources available, he says, could make Saudi Arabia a water surplus country in the near future. (LINK)

Scientists are looking for new ways to desalinate water using energy resources that reduce dependence on dwindling fossil fuels

Harnessing solar and geothermal energy for desalination.

The Middle East relies heavily on fossil fuels to drive modern desalination technologies that are used to grow food. Currently only 1 percent of desalinated water comes from renewable resources. Intermittent or low energy supplies are a problem for agricultural settings, where grid networks may not always stretch. Better ways to capture and store renewable energy resources could increase the sustainability of using desalinated water, making it cheaper and easier to use. “This is a moment of innovation. You can see that in Saudi Arabia, in Oman, in the Emirates and Qatar and in North African countries. New practices and policies are being developed around water,” said Shannon McCarthy, General Secretary of the International Desalination Association, who has worked extensively in the Middle East throughout her career. Solar energy is a particularly attractive option for an arid region like the Middle East with a reliable supply of sunlight. Solar energy has been a key area of research in Oman, where the MEDRC is based. The Research Council, Sultan Qaboos University, the Omani Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and MEDRC have installed a desalination unit powered directly by photovoltaic solar panels to treat brackish water irrigation purposes. The unit contains 20 solar cells and can produce up to 3,000 gallons of water per day, brines are treated in evaporation ponds close the to the desalination system. MEDRC aims to organize a workshop in small desalination units for agriculture sustainability in March 2018, mainly for Omani farmers. Other autonomous photovoltaic reverse osmosis plants are operational on small scale in remote areas of Morocco and Tunisia, and on medium scale in combination with MED/MSF at Umm Al Nar Abu Dhabi and Layyah in Sharjah. The King Abdullah Initiative for Solar Desalination at Al Khafji Saudi Arabia, set to become operational by 2020, is the largest plant to date. It will produce 60,000 m3/day using polycrystalline photovoltaics and reverse osmosis. The design of this plant is decoupled: RO will be fuelled by energy from the grid, and the solar panels will feed back to this grid. It is expected to reduce costs to as little as 3-4 cents per kilowatt hour. In November, recent tenders for the new 300 megawatt solar powered plant at Sakaka Al Jouf brought in bids at a record low of under 2 cents per kilowatt hour among the three top competing companies. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar — which hosts a sustainability research institute and the UAE’s first carbon-free city — eventually won the bid at 1.79 cents per kilowatt hour. “The question for the future is not about whether fossil fuels will be expended, but whether they are competitive at this price,” says Carlos Cosin, treasurer of the IDA and CEO of Almar Water Solutions, a Spanish company focused on sustainable development in the water sector. “We will see in the coming years a big revolution in the sector.” Masdar has since 2013 developed research partnerships in renewable desalination technology with four commercial partners — Abengoa, Suez, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems. Results of the pilot phase are yet to be announced but three solar collector systems were installed in 2017 to evaluate their suitability for the provision of low temperature process heat for desalination. For Cosin, who is the former CEO of Abengoa Water, the future is about solar. The resource’s major drawbacks — intermittent supply, and lack of storage capability — will be solved, he says, in the next five years by improvements in batteries and salt storage. 

Geothermal – a new frontier
Of increasing interest in desalination is geothermal energy, which would provide a constant source of stable ‘base-load’ power for continuous, long-term periods. It could be used directly for membrane distillation, while thermal distillation like MED and MSF could be powered using the electricity it generates. To date there is no industrial scale geothermal desalination plant, but it is a mature technology that has been used for generating electricity in Italy, Iceland, China, New Zealand and beyond. “The world is producing about 12,000 MWe of electricity from hydrothermal power only, why not use it in desalination,” says Dornadula Chandrasekharam, geothermist and former chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India. Now adjunct professor at King Saud University, Chandrasekharam has analysed the opportunities of tapping geothermal systems from Saudi Arabia. The hot springs and radiogenic granites in the west provide huge potential. “Immediately Saudi Arabia can develop 40 MWe [about 254 million kWh] from just two thermal springs — Jizan and Al Lith,” he says. If you translate that into desalinated water for say, wheat production, assuming 5700 kWh is for one tonne of wheat and 5.6 tonnes are grown per hectare, about 20 hectares can be brought under irrigation. That’s 120 tonnes of wheat.  Combining high temperature (above 150 degrees Celsius) geothermal energy with a big industrial scale technology, such as hybrid MED-MSF would bring the cost of this water to less than 1.5 Euro, Chandrasekharam says. 

Initiating change
There is a high initial investment needed for deep well drilling, using technologies developed by the oil sector. Environmental engineer, Noreddine Ghaffour, of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Thomas Missimer, of  Florida Gulf Coast University have been looking at lower temperature, more shallow geothermal resources for standalone desalination processes.  The direct use of steam would make for efficient membrane distillation or adsorption desalination. These resources include thermal springs, mines and existing hydrocarbon wells.  While there are a few pilot models in seas around Mexico and Greece, detailed economic modelling and a commercial-scale showcase is necessary. The technologies for renewable energy driven desalination and partial desalination are in place. “We will see in the coming years a big revolution in the sector,” says Cosin. The question is now one of regulation and implementation. “This is one of the most water scarce parts of the world, but it has the some of the highest use per capita,” says Ghaffour. But today, he is hopeful. “Politically everything is positive, towards supporting technologies that reduce the use of fossil fuels. Getting solutions is part of the socio-economic development and the food security of the region.”

(LINK)

Algonquin Power signs clean energy JV with Spain’s Abengoa, S.A

Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. says it is partnering with Spain-based Abengoa, S.A. on a new joint venture focused on global clean energy and water projects. The company says it will also buy a 25 per cent interest in Atlantica Yield plc from Abengoa for about US$608 million to expand its international project portfolio. Algonquin says the Atlantica deal will give it cash flow from the company’s long-term contracted clean energy and water infrastructure assets. It says the Abengoa partnership offers near-term development opportunities representing some US$300 million in investment opportunities. The company says Atlantica owns and operates 21 facilities including clean power generation, electricity transmission lines and desalination plants.

(LINK)

Ghana Water buying desalinated water at about 1,25 €/m³ from Abengoa sub company – Ghana – Teshie-Nungua

The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWC) loses GHc 6 million monthly by operating the Teshie-Nungua Water Desalination Plant. Citi News checks indicate that that the GWCL makes payment of GHc 8 million a month to the financiers of the project, although it makes only GHc 2 million by supplying treated water from the plant. The plant has the capacity to desalinate 13 million gallons of seawater a day. More generally, desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from a target substance, as in soil desalination, which is an issue for agriculture. In this case however, saltwater is desalinated to produce water suitable for human consumption. One by-product of desalination is salt. In April 2015, the Plant was commissioned by Former President John Mahama to process sea water into potable water for consumers in Teshie Nungua and surrounding areas. It is estimated that it serves 500,000 people with an estimated 13 million gallons or 60,000 cubic meters of water. The water desalination project falls under the Accra East Region of the Ghana Water Company’s operations. In 2011, the Government of Ghana awarded a contract to Befesa Desalination Development Ghana for the establishment of the sea water treatment plant to produce clean water, which will be channeled into the pipelines of GWCL. Messrs Befesa Limited, an engineering firm, was contracted by the government to build the desalination plant, operate to defray its cost, and hand over to the GWCL after 25 years. The project was executed by Abengoa, a Spanish company, and Sojitz Corporation, Japan’s largest importer of rare earth metals. The two hold a 94% equity in the project. The plant was designed, constructed and is being operated by Befesa Desalination Developments Ghana, a joint venture of Abengoa Water Investments Ghana, Daye Water Investment (Ghana), and their local partner Hydrocol.

Project cost
The total cost of the project is known to be $126 million. The project is a Build, Operate, Own and Transfer project spanning a period of 25 years, with a revenue forecast of about $1.3 billion dollars over 25 year period. This public-private partnership arrangement will see Abengoa operate the plant for 25 years, and then transfer its management to GWCL. The World Bank’s political risk insurance arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), gave an investment guarantee of $179 million dollars to the project. This was to cover the equity investment and shareholder loan of Abengoa and partners, and a non-shareholder loan and interest-rate swap by Standard Bank Group of South Africa.

What are the issues?
Some industry insiders have told Citi News that there was no need to have established the Teshie Water Desalination plant because around the same time, the Kpong Water Treatment plant was being expanded to supply over 40 million gallons of water to the Accra East Region. It is estimated that at its peak, the Kpong Plant could produce about 80 million gallons of water per day, and that could take care of consumers in the catchment area. The retrofitting of the Kpong Plant cost the taxpayer about $273 million. However, a strong case was made for the Teshie Desalination plant with reference to the fact that the demand for the catchment area stood at 160 million gallons of water a day. Therefore, the government gave the project the needed push to see its execution.

Resistance to the project
The Teshie and Nungua areas have had water challenges for years and because of inadequate water volumes, the Ghana Water Company Limited for years undertook water rationing. The introduction of the Desalination plant was to ensure 13 million gallons of water was produced per day, to eliminate rationing and ensure consumers got quality and affordable water. But a bigger problem persisted for GWCL, which is the off-taker under the Water Purchasing Agreement between Ghana and Befesa. A consolidation of all the costs meant that, Ghana Water was buying the water at about GH 6.5 per cubic meter, and selling at the regulated PURC rate of about GHS1.5 per cubic meter. This arrangement meant that the GWCL was losing over GHS4 for every cubic meter of water sold from the Teshie Desalination Plant. Some of the monthly costs to the Ghana Water Company include an estimated GHc 1.5 million electricity bill. The GWCL is currently unable to pay the Electricity Company of Ghana, which is also struggling financially. The other cost element is the capacity charge, and from Citi News’ analysis, the GWCL owes Befesa an amount of about $80 million. In November 2015, months after the plant started operations, the GWCL revealed to Citi News that it owed Befesa GHc 43m.

Cause for concern
GWCL produces an estimated 190 million gallons of water per day with current demand at 250 million gallons of water per day. Only 3 of their 89 urban water supply systems are breaking even and making some good money. These three, Barekese, Weija and Kpong, are basically working to subsidize the operations of the others, according to Citi News’ research.

Any Water Purchasing Agreement which burdens the company financially puts a stress on the nation’s water company and may have dire implications.

Possible options for GWCL, Gov’t

The Government of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company have two options out of the many available to them in this situation. First, they can continue negotiations and reach a sustainable Water Purchasing Agreement with Befesa and their partners, including the World Bank’s MIGA or it can terminate the existing Water Purchasing Agreement and pay-out the debt, the equity or both, based on negotiations.

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Morocco is finalising a feasibility study and financial and institutional structures for a new seawater desalination plant project

According to L’Economiste, the plant will be located in Casablanca-Settat region, and will supply water to Casablanca.

Desalination plant projects are also reportedly in the pipeline for Al Hoceima, Chtouka, El Jadida, Essaouira, Laayoune, Safi, Saidia, and Tiznit-Sidi; as well as Abengoa’s up to 450,000 cu/m per day project in Agadir.

“With increasing demand and insufficient local resources, the only recourse to reduce the deficit in industrial or agriculture drinking water is desalination of seawater,” said Morocco’s secretary of state for water Charafate Afailal.

The North African country is currently implementing its Water Security Law and contractual framework, the water table contract, which sets out the rights, responsibilities and obligations of water users and other stakeholders.

The aim is to avoid overexploitation of water resources. A recent study showed that Morocco will need to desalinate 425mn cu/m of water by 2030 to ensure supply.

In addition to the world’s largest renewable energy-run desalination plant designed for drinking water and irrigation, to be set up in Agadir for a budget of US$280mn, the Casablanca-Settat region will also… (LINK)

Morocco will soon be home to the world’s largest renewable energy-run desalination plant

Morocco will soon be home to the world’s largest renewable energy-run desalination plant for drinking water and irrigation, following the signing of Phase One of the €309-million ($352.9 million) project.

The project will be developed by Abengoa, an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, in the Agadir region in partnership with the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and BMCE Bank.

The project involves the construction of a plant with a 275,000-cu-m total production capacity of desalinated water per day which…

(LINK)

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