New Technologies in Spain

New Technologies in Spain
New Technologies in Spain

               Spanish innovation contributes to advancing desalination
               to bring sustainable clean water to millions.
New Technologies in Spain
Innovation in Motion
Spain is now the world’s eighth-largest economy and the fastest
growing in the European Union. It represents more than 2.5%
of the world’s total GDP and a third of all new jobs created in
the Eurozone last year. Spain is fast becoming a leader in in-
novation and generating advanced solutions in the industries of
aerospace, renewable energies, water treatment, rail, biotechnol-
ogy, industrial machinery and civil engineering. Spanish firms are
innovators in the field of public-works finance and management,
where six of the world’s top ten companies are from Spain. Where
innovation thrives, so will the successful global enterprises of the
21st century.

To find out more about technology opportunities in Spain, visit:

To find out more about New Technologies in Spain, visit:
New Technologies in Spain
Canary Islands Coastline

in Spain
Spain built Europe’s first desalination plant nearly 40 years ago and is the largest user of desalination technology in the
Western world. Spanish companies lead the market, operating in regions including India, the Middle East, and North
America. Spanish innovation contributes to advancing desalination to bring sustainable clean water to millions.This is the
second in an eight-part series highlighting new technologies in Spain and is produced by Technology Review, Inc.’s custom-
publishing division in partnership with the Trade Commission of Spain.

Just steps away from the Mediterranean sea along Spain’s south-       desalination plants, have grown, constantly honing and improv-
ern coast, machinery hums inside Carboneras, Europe’s largest         ing both cost and efficiency. Research continues in the Canary
seawater desalination plant. Throughout the building, water           Islands for ways to couple desalination with renewable energy
flows through brightly colored pipes and tanks, along the way         to provide sustainable, ecological solutions for communities in
passing through layers of chemical and physical filtration before     developing countries. Today, Spanish companies make up the
the seawater reaches the heart of the plant, the reverse-osmosis      largest percentage of competitors on the international market
membranes that turn saltwater into fresh. This plant is the latest    for the design, engineering, construction, and operation of new
marker in Spain’s decades of experience and research in the field     desalination plants around the world.
of desalination. It represents the efforts of some of the top Span-
ish firms in the field, both in Spain and around the world.           History of Desalination
    For the past nearly 40 years, companies in Spain have built       The idea that pure water could be made from seawater has been
and operated desalination plants, first in the water-poor Canary      tantalizing thirsty humans for hundreds, if not thousands, of
Islands off the coast of Africa, then moving to fulfill water needs   years. The original premise was based on the idea that boiling
on the Spanish mainland and around the world. These compa-            or evaporating water separates the water from the salt. That
nies, and the companies that provide a wide variety of parts for      theory—vaporization or distillation—was behind the technol-                                                                                               1
New Technologies in Spain
ogy for the first large-scale desalination     and Japan who developed membranes for           desalination plants in the world.
plants that sprouted in desert areas in the    industrial purposes soon realized that
1950s and 1960s, primarily in the Middle       those same semipermeable man-made               Why Spain?
East. These areas, lacking water but with      membranes could be used in desalination.        Spain provided the home for Europe’s
plenty of fuel to burn, turned one resource,   By the 1970s, desalination-plant develop-       entrance into the desalination industry
energy, into what the region craved: water.    ers adopted reverse osmosis (RO) for use        with the first plant installed on the island
The technologies using heat, though,           in new desalination plants.                     of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands in
require vast amounts of energy.                    Though more efficient than vaporiza-        1964. Since then, the process has
    Researchers throughout the early           tion or distillation and requiring far less     expanded throughout the islands and on
1900s had been studying the idea of using      physical space for the same operation,          the Spanish mainland as well. Today,
a membrane to separate out salt from sea-      these plants still demanded a high              Spain is the fourth-largest user of desali-
water. This is based on the osmotic nature     energy input. Over time, engineers devel-       nation technology in the world, behind
of cell walls: certain semipermeable           oped recovery systems to take advantage         Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
membranes, such as animal and plant cell       of the high pressure of waste brine left        and Kuwait. Spain’s more than 700 plants
walls, allow water to pass through,            after the reverse-osmosis process. This         produce approximately 1,600,000 cubic
creating an equilibrium between a highly       has led to precipitous drops in energy          meters of water each day, or enough for
concentrated solution on one side of           needs for the process, reducing the cost,       about 8 million inhabitants.
the membrane and a diluted concentration       while the cost of the membranes used in             The Canary Islands aren’t the only dry
on the other.                                  reverse-osmosis technology have also            areas of the country in need of new water
    Scientists hypothesized that with the      dropped about 50 percent.                       sources. The coast along the Mediterra-
right amount of pressure and with the cor-         At the same time, conventional sources      nean, particularly in the south, has long
rect membrane design, this natural phe-        of fresh water have proven more costly in       suffered periods of droughts and inade-
nomenon could be reversed through a            recent years. In some areas, coastal            quate access to water. Despite water scar-
man-made membrane. Instead of flowing          aquifers are depleted of water before they      city, the sun and climate have made the
from a diluted solution to a highly con-       can refill naturally, leading to the intru-     southern region the agricultural breadbas-
centrated one, equalizing them both, the       sion of seawater. All these factors             ket of Spain and of much of Europe, with
concentrate could be forced through a          contribute to the fact that, in some regions,   miles of greenhouses stretching out to the
membrane, leaving an even higher               desalination has become cost-competitive        horizon. At the same time, the population
concentrated solution of dissolved solids      with traditional methods of supplying           in these areas has grown dramatically.
(in this case, salt) behind.                   water needs.                                        Spain is already the second most vis-
    In the 1960s, researchers in the U.S.          Today, there are more than 15,000           ited country in the world, and tourism in
                                                                                               Spain is on the rise. In the past decade the
Use of Desalinated Water in Spain                                                              south of Spain has increasingly become a
                                                                                               destination for retired northern Europe-
                                                                                               ans looking to create a new home in a land
                                                                                               with plenty of sun. The local governments
                                                                                               have encouraged this type of develop-
                                                                                               ment, building new homes along with the
                                                                                               services necessary for this retired popula-
                                                                                               tion, such as golf courses. In fact, Spain
                                                                                               built a record-breaking 800,000 new
                                                                                               properties in 2005, most concentrated
                                                                                               along the southern coast; that figure is
                                                                                               higher than the combined new properties
                                                                                               built in France, Germany, and the U.K.
                                                                                                   “Here we encounter the paradox:
                                                                                               because of the climate and the long hours
                                                                                               of sun, there’s a great deal of tourism and
                                                                                               very productive agriculture. And yet pre-
                                  The production of desalinated water in Spain                 cisely because of the wonderful climate,
                                  doubled from 2000 to 2004. The Spanish gov-                  there’s little water,” says Claudio Klyn-
                                  ernment predicts that production will double                 hout, director of communications for
                                  again in another five years.                                 AcuaMed, the arm of the Spanish govern-
                                                                                               ment in charge of the water program.
                                                                            Source: AEDYR

New Technologies in Spain
The government has long been a
supporter of desalination as a method of
dealing with water scarcity. After the
Spanish Civil War, Spain’s economy was
in desperate need of revitalization. The
government saw an opportunity to boost
economic activities through tourism to
the sun-drenched Canary Islands, but the
region lacked natural water resources,
particularly on the eastern islands. In
order to lay the groundwork for economic
growth, the government decided to build
Europe’s first desalination plant in the
Canaries. This original plant used the
same technology as those in the Middle
East, that of vaporization of water. Within
a few years, though, the government
switched and began using the then-novel
reverse-osmosis technology for newer
    Recent events have conspired to
continue this desalination trend within
Spain. Under the past government,
officials in Spain had created plans to
divert the Ebro River in the water-rich
north more than 480 kilometers south to
supply the parched regions along the
southern coast.
    Based on a planned increase in water,
developers had rallied behind develop-
ment schemes costing billions of dollars
to build vast tourism complexes between
Alicante and Almeria in the south, includ-     High-pressure pumps push sea water through reverse osmosis mem-
ing dozens of golf courses. But farmers        branes housed in narrow blue tubes. Above, desalinated water is stored
and environmentalists protested that the       in tanks to flush seawater at shutdown.
diversion would have a serious environ-
mental impact on the Ebro and its delta,       in guaranteeing water, rain or no rain,     forms of water treatment, such as waste-
on the farmland in the north, and along the    independent of the climate,” says Klyn-     water treatment or water purification. But
hundreds of miles of planned pipeline.         hout. “In 2005 there was a drought, and     the real prize for many of these compa-
    When the new government took power         there was doubt that the Ebro River would   nies, the way they have been able to
in 2004, they put the expected plan on         even have had enough water to supply had    become significant players on the inter-
hold. Instead, they’ve drawn a new plan        the planned pipeline been built.”           national market, has been their experience
that supplies water to the south without          Bidding on the first six of the plants   with desalination.
taking it from the north. The main method      begins in the spring of 2006, with all         “We have been working for the past 30
involves building 20 new desalination          plants intended for completion by the end   years on all these desalination plants,”
plants all along the Mediterranean coast       of 2008. When operational, these plants     says Jose Antonio Medina, president of
where needs are highest, focusing on the       will more than double Spain’s desalina-     the International Desalination Associa-
region in the south. The desalination          tion capacity.                              tion and head of the Spanish Desalination
plants are expected to fulfill 50 percent of                                               and Reutilization Association. “That gave
the need, with reuse of treated water,         Spanish Companies                           Spanish companies the necessary experi-
increased irrigation efficiency, and other     The announcement of the plans to develop    ence with both building and operating
efforts supplying the rest.                    these new desalination plants within        plants. At the moment Spain has the high-
    “The current government thought that       Spain has been a boon for desalination      est number of companies in the world
this new plan would be much more secure        companies. Most also specialize in other    with this level of technology and experi-                                                                                               3
New Technologies in Spain
ence in desalination.”                        government, in an effort to support a vari-      experience working in Spain.
    These companies include such names        ety of Spanish companies, divided the                Officials at Befesa, part of the Aben-
as Pridesa, Inima, Befesa, Cadagua,           development of the landmark Carboneras           goa Group, say one key to their advantage
Sadyt, Infilco, Aqualia, Cobra, Grupo         plant. Separate bids were taken for the          has been their willingness to take a chance
Seta, and IsoluxCorsan Corvian. Degre-        design and engineering, construction, and        in newer, financially riskier markets
mont, a French multinational company,         operation of the plant. At the end, Inima        around the word. Befesa was one of the
has a strong desalination sector made up      worked out the engineering and design            first Spanish companies operating in
almost entirely of Spaniards.                 details. A consortium of Pridesa, Degre-         Algeria and is now building the first
    Nearly all of these companies got their   mont, Befesa, and OHL, Inima’s parent            desalination plant in India.
feet wet in the waters off the coast of the   company, undertook the construction.                 “This is our philosophy–when we start
Canary Islands. In the portfolio that com-    Today, Inima operates the plant.                 work in a country, we do so because we
panies put forth to show their skill and          This experience with different aspects       have a strategy to be working in that
experience, many point to one of the many     of plant development and management              country,” says Guillermo Bravo, CEO of
ground-breaking plants on the Canary          and with a wide variety of plants is the key     Befesa. “We now have three plants in
Islands. One plant was the first in Europe,   to the companies’ competitiveness,               Algeria, and we plan to develop the
another the first large-scale RO plant in     according to representatives. “Each plant        market in India.”
Europe, another the first in Europe to take   is different,” says Ignacio Zuñiga, inter-           Befesa is also conducting research on
advantage of a new desalination mem-          national business development manager            the possibility of reusing desalination
brane, still another the first to use new     of Cadagua. “There are different condi-          membranes for other purposes after
energy recovery systems to dramatically       tions in different oceans. And the condi-        replacement, thus reducing the overall
reduce energy needs.                          tions of the intake of the plant or the level    cost of the facility.
    “One of the early plants, it was a very   of pollution in the area, all of these affect        Inima, which has dozens of desalina-
complicated plant to operate,” says           the pretreatment of the water and the            tion plants in Spain and around the world,
Medina. “I worked at that plant from the      design of the entire plant.”                     points to their decades of experience, the
beginning. It has been like the university        Representatives of each company, in          financial backing of the international con-
of reverse osmosis for us.”                   competing against the others in the mar-         struction company OHL, and their ability
    At times today the companies are com-     ket, point to specific company strengths.        to work in all aspects of water treatment.
petitors when submitting bids for new         Most are backed by large construction                Not only are Spanish companies
plants, whether for individual stages, such   groups or other financially secure, multi-       building new plants, but in the U.S. one
as the design, or for the plant’s building    national companies that provide the              Spanish firm is attempting to fix an exist-
and operation. At times the companies         needed resources and stability for invest-       ing plant. The Tampa Bay Seawater
work in various consortia. The Spanish        ments in this sector. All have years of          Desalination Plant, the first large Ameri-

Spanish Companies at the Top of the Global Market                                             (View complete interactive map online.)

    Major International Operations

can seawater desalination plant, origi-
nally begun in 1999, has been inundated
with problems from the beginning, due in
part to challenges with construction, man-
agement, and pretreatment of the seawa-
ter. Pridesa, a Spanish company now
owned by RWE Thames Water, won a
contract, in partnership with American
Water, to take over the plant.
    Jose Maria Ortega, international com-
mercial director of Pridesa, admits that
rehabilitating an existing plant is much
more challenging than building one from
scratch. “We thought it was a huge oppor-
tunity to set up a good precedent for sea-
water desalination in the American
market,” says Ortega, “with ourselves as
the main protagonist.”

Supporting Companies
The membranes used in most Spanish
desalination plants are the heart of the
desalination plant. They are produced
primarily by American and Japanese            High-pressure plug valves await shipping at an MTS Valves warehouse
companies, though some institutions in        in the north of Spain.
Spain have begun undertaking research
into membrane production. Spanish com-            One of the companies in the north,         of duplex and superduplex alloys to create
panies, however, have developed the parts     MTS Valves, makes high-pressure valves         submersible motors and high-pressure
to fill many of the needs in these large-     for all sorts of mechanical needs. As the      hydraulic pumps for the intake of seawa-
scale plants around the world. The Span-      desalination industry grew, it began devel-    ter from beach wells or intake tanks.
ish Desalination and Reutilization            oping the needed valves, then specialized      Originally a family-owned business that
Association counts nearly 60 companies        in the valves of the noncorrosive alloys of    began in 1940 manufacturing small
as members, all involved in some aspect       stainless steel called duplex and superdu-     motors for area companies, the company
of desalination, from producing filters       plex that are very expensive and difficult     began to focus on submersible motors and
and valves to the large companies that        to cast. The fact that there are two found-    pumps when desalination began in Spain
build the plants.                             ries in the Bilbao region that work with       in the 1960s.
    Along the northern coast of Spain, the    this metal has proven to be a boon for             As the market developed, Indar con-
land is lush and green, a visual contrast     local companies.                               tinued making pumps for other water-
to the parched areas of the south. The            Says Jose Ignacio de la Fuente, factory    treatment plants while honing its
cities and towns around the industrial city   manager of MTS Valves, “We have been           desalination niche by working with these
of Bilbao form Spain’s most concentrated      in this market for more than 30 years. We      challenging alloys. Taking it one step
industrial corridor, with a large number      are the European leaders in this market,       further, Indar has now created an even
of metal foundries and manufacturing          supplying valves to plants around the          more specialized niche by focusing on
plants.                                       world, ­to Israel, Singapore, Australia, the   pumps and engines of larger diameter,
    Though this area can provide for its      United Arab Emirates, and Algeria. We are      suitable for the newer large desalination
water needs without desalination technol-     in the position to guarantee a first-class     plants. Recent research has led the com-
ogy, nevertheless a number of companies       product by working with our suppliers.”        pany to develop a pump and motor that
have specialized in meeting the needs of      De la Fuente says MTS Valves continues         saves enough energy to recoup the cost of
desalination. Desalinating seawater           to research ways to optimize the perfor-       the new pump in only one year.
involves particular engineering chal-         mance of the valves, aiding in reducing the        “We design the systems to stay com-
lenges, including dealing with the high       overall cost of water production.              petitive, to reduce power consumption as
corrosivity of the water and the extremely        Indar Maquinas Hidraulicas (Indar          much as possible,” says Marcos Garcia,
high pressure needed to force the water       Hydraulic Machines) has also been able         sales manager of Indar.
through the membrane.                         to take advantage of the local availability        In desalination, a crucial factor is pre-                                                                                                    5
treatment, cleaning the water to the high-        sea in that area.”                             pressure to push the water through the
est level possible before it reaches the              The effects of the brine on the sur-       membrane), it remains an issue in terms
reverse-osmosis membranes, the most               rounding flora and fauna in the sea depend     of cost and environmental issues, as
important, expensive, and delicate part of        on the specific marine life in the disposal    nations around the world battle rising
the entire operation. The purer the water,        area. The usual response is to pipe the out-   greenhouse gas emissions, such as those
the longer the membranes last and the             flow far enough from sensitive species         emitted by power stations.
more effective they remain.                       that the water quickly disperses into             In the last 30 years, the amount of
    Fluytec, a company based near Bilbao,         the surroundings. This is carefully con-       energy required for desalination has fallen
creates filter systems for the second level       sidered in all plans for new plants, and       precipitously, and along with it the price.
of treatment in a desalination plant. Its         despite extensive research, there has not      Decades ago it took approximately 12
filters, which look like long cylinders of        been a documented case of serious delete-      kilowatt-hours of energy to produce one
wound yarn, are cased inside a cylindrical        rious effect resulting from the disposal       cubic meter of freshwater using RO tech-
housing. To innovate and distinguish its-         of brine.                                      nology; today it takes on average between
selve in this market, Fluytec has devel-              At the same time, companies are aware      3 and 4 kilowatt-hours of energy. Even
oped a method of building the casing out          of the need to mitigate the effect of brine    today, however, the cost of that energy
of noncorrosive fiberglass-reinforced             on the surrounding seabed. Before the          makes up about 40 percent of the total cost

“     We design the systems to stay competitive, to reduce power consumption
      as much as possible,” says Marcos Garcia of Indar.
plastic (FRP), which unlike PVC can               development of a plant begins, careful         to produce each cubic meter of water.
withstand high-water pressures at much            studies are done on the sensitivity of the         “We are very close to the minimum
larger sizes. In the case of large-scale          local marine life. Various techniques to       energy for desalination,” says Juan Maria
plants, the FRP filters must be laid out and      diffuse the brine may be employed. At          Galtés, director of special projects for
layered by hand, a task that few compa-           times, desalination plants are built close     Inima. “There’s a point where it’s impos-
nies are able to accomplish.                      to power plants, as is the case with the       sible to go any further,” because of the
    In addition, Fluytec has developed a          Carboneras plant. The brine from Carbon-       high pressure needed to separate salt
new system for replacing filters in               eras is mixed with the cooling water of        from water.
extremely large plants, mechanizing the           the thermal power plant, diluting the              Developments in new kinds of mem-
process whereby filters are cleaned or            brine to a percentage closer to that of        branes or other tweaks in plant efficiency
replaced. “In the past it was done by hand.       the original seawater. Another option is       could help engineers continue to shave off
With this new system, filters will be off-        to build a plant close to a wastewater         small amounts of energy, reducing both
duty for only a short time,” says Jorge           treatment plant; many coastal treatment        the cost and the environmental impact.
Merlo, in charge of international sales for       plants dispose of the residual freshwater
Fluytec.                                          directly into the sea, and the two may be      Canary Islands Renewable
    Dozens of other Spanish companies             mixed together.                                Energy
have developed expertise in niche markets            “Many people think that desalination        Researching methods to reduce energy use
in desalination, marketing their products         has sort of bad impact on the environment.     has long been a focus of the Canary Islands
within Spain and around the world.                This is exactly the contrary,” says Corrado    Institute of Technology (ITC), a research
                                                  Sommariva, president of the European           facility supported by the regional govern-
Environmental Challenges                          Desalination Society and divisional direc-     ment of the Canary Islands. And scientists
When countries or municipalities propose          tor of Mott Macdonald. “Because for            there are taking this one step further: they
new desalination plants, concerns about           instance one of the reasons for selecting      are investigating how to produce freshwa-
the environmental effects often arise in          desalination in Spain and in Australia was     ter from saltwater without using fossil
terms of energy consumption and the dis-          the preservation of some of the existing       fuels at all.
posal of the residual brine. For every liter      natural resources which would have been            “Here, we have a great deal of sun,
of water taken from the sea, less than half       basically depleted if water transmission       wind, and seawater. It is an excellent place
becomes desalted. The remaining brine             was implemented instead.”                      to develop systems,” said Gonzalo Pierna-
has about twice the salinity of seawater             One of the main challenges that             vieja, ITC energy and water director. “It is
and is usually returned to the sea.               remains with the desalination process is       also an ideal place to simulate conditions
   “The brine could be a problem in the-          the cost of the energy required to produce     in many developing countries.”
ory, but it usually isn’t,” says Medina.          freshwater. Though different processes             The engineering involved in using
“You have to study how resistant the              demand varying amounts of energy               renewable energy to power a desalination
marine life is to different levels of salinity,   (desalting seawater with membranes             plant can be relatively simple: solar or
and you have to study the conditions of the       requires the most, as it takes tremendous      wind generators can be hooked up to an

At the Canary Islands Institute of Technology, solar panels feed energy                        also power desalination plants that
to a stand-alone reverse-osmosis desalination system in operation                              supply all the island’s drinking water
since 1998. The domes cover desalination prototypes, including                                 and irrigation needs.
workshops and labs.                                                                                The ITC research group is one of only
                                                                                               a handful focusing on developing and
existing utility grid, which then offsets the   which feeds a steady supply of electricity     testing plants in which wind turbines
power demands of the desalination plant.        to a small desalination plant. “But batter-    directly power the desalination process
    The challenge, however, in coupling         ies aren’t great because you have to           without going through any grid.
desalination directly with renewable            replace them after, say, five or 10 years,         Though all of these systems could be
energy such as solar or wind power lies in      and then you have to dispose of them as        used in industrialized countries, the main
the variability of renewable energy. The        well,” says Piernavieja. “It’s better to       goal of the ITC is to develop plants that
membranes used in reverse osmosis need          develop a system that needs no batteries       could theoretically supply water to even
to be kept wet, and the systems that make       in the first place.”                           a fraction of the billion people around the
up a desalination plant have been devel-            Other solutions tested at the Canary       world in need of clean drinking water.
oped to handle a steady stream of water.        Islands site make use of wind power. In        “Many of these people live in areas that
Solar energy is plentiful when the sun          one, a small wind-energy converter pow-        h ave a bu n d a n t r e n ewa b l e e n e rg y
shines and wind power only when the             ers a seawater RO plant designed to oper-      resources and yet no electricity grid, and
wind blows.                                     ate even with the stops and starts of wind     they may never be connected to a grid.
    Researchers in the Canary Islands           power. In another, a small wind farm cre-      This is the philosophy behind our
have spent the past decade developing           ates a small stand-alone electricity grid      research,” says Piernavieja.
stand-alone small plants that could             that then feeds electricity to the desalina-       ITC research on coupling desalination
provide water for approximately 100 to          tion plant.                                    with renewable energy is already being
300 families, about the size of a small vil-        The Canary island of El Hierro,            tested in the world outside the Canary
lage in a developing country. ITC projects      which has 10,000 inhabitants, hopes to         Islands. The ITC has placed four small
are also carried out in conjunction with        model the future of island living. ITC is      desalination plants among a population of
other international research institutes or      involved in a project there in which even-     African fishermen living within the
companies.                                      tually 100 percent of the island’s energy      boundaries of a national park called Banc
    On one Canary Island test site, photo-      needs will be served by renewable              D’Arguin in Mauritania. In 2006, the
voltaic panels are hooked up to a battery,      energy; that energy, through a grid, will      diesel-run desalination plants are being                                                                                                        7
converted to run using a hybrid of wind,         rehabilitating the plant in Tampa, or any
solar, and diesel power. Wind–solar RO           other of these newer plants succeeds, it
plants are being installed in Morocco, and
a solar plant is destined for Tunisia.
                                                 could lead to the development of others.
                                                     Mexico is installing its first large-
    Still, these types of applications have      scale desalination plant in the resort town
                                                                                                        ICEX (Spanish Institute for
many hurdles to overcome. Says Medina,           of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja               Foreign Trade)
“These types of systems need mainte-             California, to be built and operated by      
nance. If you install such plants in such a      Inima. India’s Chennai plant, to be built
remote place, and if the plants break            and operated by Befesa, opens the market               AEDYR (Spanish Desalination
down, it could take months until someone         there, while many Spanish companies are                and Water Reuse Association)
can be sent there to fix them.”                  already in talks with the Chinese govern-    
    There are applications for these types       ment about plans for desalination plants.
of stand-alone plants in industrialized          According to Medina, Libya will soon be                AMEC URBIS (Spanish
countries as well. The ITC is in discussion      opening up for bids on desalination plants             Association of Urban and
                                                                                                        Environmental Equipment)
with the engineering company MTorres,            as well. Israel recently began operating a
based in northern Spain, about combin-           large RO plant, and Spanish firms are in
ing the technology developed in the              the competition to build the second one,               Centro de estudios
Canary Islands with the ones MTorres is          currently in the planning stages.                      hidrográficos
developing: offshore desalination plants             In the Middle East, most plants in the             (The Center for Hydrographic
powered by wind. MTorres, with exten-            past have made use of vaporization tech-               Studies)
sive experience in wind power, has plans         nologies, while Spanish companies excel      
to connect the two fields.                       in energy-efficient RO plants. But many                presentation.html
                                                 new plants in the region are now being
Growth of Desalination                           installed with RO or hybrid technologies               HISPAGUA (Spanish Water
Without a doubt, the use of desalination         as the price of oil continues to rise. Span-           Information System)
is rising around the world. The planned          ish companies are already working in
new projects in Spain expand the market          Saudia Arabia, Oman, and the United
                                                                                                        SERCOBE (Spanish National
for Spanish companies. In Algeria, the           Arab Emirates and have plans to expand                 Association of Manufacturers
government, like the Spanish government          into this market.                                      of Capital Goods):
in the 1960s, is currently acting on the             While many companies around the          
belief that the best way to jump-start the       world have years of experience in
economy is to provide water for private          general water treatment, Spanish compa-                For more information visit:
consumption and for industry. To fulfill         nies have some of the strongest back-        
those needs, Algeria is in the process of        g r o u n d s g l o b a l l y i n t h e fi e l d o f
building seven large desalination plants.        desalination plants. “We want to focus                 Contact:
Of those, one will be built by Ionics, a         more on desalination,” says Jose Maria                 Mr. Enrique Alejo
                                                                                                        Trade Commission of Spain
U.S. company owned by General Elec-              Ortega, international commercial director
                                                                                                        in Chicago
tric, and one by a Spanish-Canadian con-         of Pridesa, which builds and manages a
                                                                                                        500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1500
sortium. The remaining five will be built        variety of water treatment and purifica-               Chicago, IL 60611, USA
entirely by Spanish companies.                   tion plants in addition to desalination.               T: 312 644 1154
    Many in the field believe that the U.S.,     “We think that it’s probably the most                  F: 312 527 5531
which is plagued by water supply                 significant strength of the company and      
problems in California and Texas, is             the field where we feel we can differenti-
another emerging market. A number of             ate ourselves compared to the rest of the
water districts in California are already in     companies all over the world.”
the planning stages for desalination                 According to the United Nations
plants along the coast, and Spanish              Environmental Programme, hundreds of
companies are eyeing the state as a center       scientists around the world see water
of future business operations. A number          shortage as one of the top concerns in the
of municipalities in Texas are investigat-       new millennium. Spanish companies are
ing the option of producing potable              planning to use their expertise in desali-
water from desalination. Inima is already        nation to improve the water situation for
building its first plant in the U.S., a facil-   millions of people around the world, by
ity near Boston. If Pridesa succeeds in          dipping into the nearly limitless seas.

New Technologies in Spain Series
Spain is a technologically and industrially advanced country committed to in-
novation, research and development, both through its government and through
its private sector. The country is determined to deepen and intensify its produc-
tive specialization in industries that depend on technology and innovation. The
Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce has launched an ambitious plan
combining its available human and financial resources and setting out specific
lines of action with the goal of strengthening the international outlook of the
most technologically advanced companies in Spain.

As part of this initiative, Technology Review’s custom-publishing division has
produced the New Technologies in Spain Series, which will appear as a special
advertising supplement in MIT’s Technology Review magazine. This powerful
eight-part series showcases the technological development and excellence of
Spanish companies in several important industries, such as wind energy, water
desalination, infrastructures, high-speed rail, aerospace, industrial machinery,
biotechnology and renewable energy.

Spanish firms have embraced new technologies to persevere in their continu-
ous search for advanced solutions. To find out more, visit:

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