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Desalination Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the company which made the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry in 2018.

Shortlisted Nominees


Acciona Agua

What is it?

The water arm of Spanish construction conglomerate Acciona, with experience building some of the world’s largest and most advanced desalination plants, alongside an increasingly sophisticated involvement in operations, design, management and project investment.

What has it done?

2018 saw Acciona flex its muscles as perhaps the world’s most successful desalination contractor, securing construction responsibility for a dazzling array of high-profile and high-concept facilities. Equally at home with margins-focused PPP developers or conservative water utilities, the company’s adaptability, nous and construction expertise make it a force to be reckoned with in the EPC markets.

What makes it special?

From a construction point of view, Acciona was heavily involved in 2018’s most exciting and most expensive projects. In the Gulf it picked up massive deals to build a brace of colossal facilities at Al Khobar (Saudi Arabia) plus Dubai’s latest major plant at Jebel Ali (Dubai). The former marked the first time Saudi Arabia’s national desalination company had worked with a Spanish contractor, demonstrating how canny contractors like Acciona can shift the market.

Matching its success serving the world’s largest water utilities, Acciona was equally successful in the hyper-competitive EPC-for-BOT market alongside its investment partners, bringing its design expertise to bear in creating tailored plants for any situation.


It secured the deal to build sub-Saharan Africa’s largest desal facility in Mombasa, and its design for the Shuqaiq 3 IWP in Saudi Arabia contributed to a record-at-the-time benchmark water pricing tariff of just $0.52/m3.

While it is best known for its construction excellence the country has been making waves outside these markets, with increasing strength and confidence backing EPC work with operations and equity. Its design and technology skills permeate every part of the process, allowing a truly holistic picture of desalination excellence.


Acwa Power

What is it?

A Riyadh-based water and power project developer, responsible for investment, delivery and operation of plants across the world. It has interests in a portfolio of operating and under-development desalination assets with a combined capacity in excess of 3.6 million m3/d.

What has it done?

The company proved an unstoppable force in the project markets in 2018, securing a host of the world’s largest references through a combination of canny design, financial clout and a barnstorming approach to bidding. With new technology and new sources of financing pushing a resurgent desal market, ACWA Power is leading the way for project developers.

What makes it special?

A combination of aggressive bidding with subtle margin management made the company a force to be reckoned with in the project markets. Snapping up the flagship Rabigh contract in Saudi Arabia put the company in the forefront of the world’s largest desalination investment programme, while successes in Bahrain, the UAE and elsewhere proved ACWA has genuine international water heft.

With audacious bids for plants that drove down the cost of water to record new lows, ACWA proved that the innovation drought in desalination is truly over. At $0.49/m3 the company’s market-leading bid for the massive Taweelah plant in Abu Dhabi set an astounding new industry benchmark and proved that the cost of desalinated water can continue to be pushed down.


The company matched its technical and bidding chops with financial mastery, completing the challenging financing of the Salalah IWP project in Oman in an environment of significant downturn for the country’s economy. Despite the rising capital costs and flight of liquidity, ACWA raised $122 million of debt at competitive rates with the longest-ever tenor for a Omani project financing transaction.



What is it?

The international water wing of Spanish construction conglomerate FCC, with experience in the construction, financing and operation of major water and wastewater infrastructure projects around the globe. It has been responsible for more than 20 large-scale desalination plants for a wide-ranging array of customers.

What has it done?

The last year marked not only a stunning period of sustained success for Aqualia in the project markets, but a period of strengthening, growth and expansion of ambitions as the construction giant bolstered its operating, investment and research capabilities.

What makes it special?

In 2018 the company matched its colossal contracting heft with a sustained level of operating expertise in the desalination sphere. The start of operations at major new plants in Djerba, Tunisia, and Empalme-Guaymas, Mexico, were joined by the signing of a major new O&M contract at Mutxamel in Spain, showing the marks of a company committed to the lifetime requirements of desal.

As the first build-operate-transfer scheme in Latin America for Aqualia, Empalme-Guaymas demonstrates a company that is willing to back up its substantial desalination experience with cash to break into new and growing markets for the technology, a crucial consideration at a time when clients are facing pressure on capital budgets.


Beyond success in the project markets, the company is making waves in the cutting-edge new technologies aiming to redefine desal performance. As the leader of the EU-backed MIDES project examining the use of microbial desalination cells as a pretreatment for RO, Aqualia is at the forefront of a technological revolution that could eventually see the extraction of salt from seawater using less than 0.5 kWh/m3 of external energy.


IDE Technologies

What is it?

A desalination project developer, EPC contractor and operator based in Israel, focusing on the design, construction and delivery of high-profile and high-design desalination plants in domestic and international markets.

What has it done?

In 2018 the company received the ultimate backing from its own leaders with a high-profile management-backed buyout that meant the team that had made IDE one of the world desalination leaders now directly controlled its future. The company’s unparalleled buccaneering approach to new contracts and new technologies now has even more impetus.

What makes it special?

A stunning corporate restructuring in 2018 saw a management-led investment team take control of a majority stake in the company, marking a serious level of commitment, and followed by an immediate repositioning to take maximum advantage of the resurgent local market by striking a bold deal that assuaged fears of anti-trust authorities and opened up Israeli project markets again to the country’s leading desal experts.

The company is surfing the buoyant international commodities market, with the mining industry in Chile providing one of the company’s most impressive references to date.


The 103,680m3/d Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 desalination project serving Teck Resources’ copper mine will deploy a prefabricated modular solution with minimal maintenance requirements to overcome the remote location and minimise delivery time while satisfying stringent local environmental regulations.

During 2018 the company continued its constant drive to improve the quality and performance of desalination technology through high-level research. Its newly developed MAXH2O Pulse Flow Reverse Osmosis technology for brackish water brine and industrial effluent treatment yields a very high recovery through a cost-effective process, operating without chemicals and most importantly, with no risk of scaling and biofouling.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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