Skip to content

Desalination Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the company which made the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry in 2020.

Shortlisted Nominees


Biwater Inc.

What is it?

The US-based desalination and membrane treatment hub of the international water and wastewater group.

What has it done?

In a year that saw the pandemic rewrite the rules for international markets, Biwater Inc. soared above its competitors to take an unassailable grip on the US’s membrane treatment plant market with its most successful year of trading ever. Since the beginning of the pandemic, investment in the company’s delivery capabilities began to pay off, and it has executed and been awarded a record combined 425,000m3/d in installed plant capacity.

What makes it special?

Biwater was undoubtedly the king of US desalination wins last year. The company’s membrane treatment business was simply unstoppable in 2020. It successfully delivered a string of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration systems that transformed the water infrastructure options for customers across the country. High-profile contracts secured included the West Villages Desalination project in Florida, and a seemingly endless list in California covering the North Pleasant Valley Desalter, Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project, Beverly Hills RO retrofit and Antioch BWRO, among others.

The company’s new state-of-the-art production centre in Rancho Cucamonga, California, began to reap dividends in a serious way in 2020. The ability to roll out complex tailored systems at a lightning-fast pace transformed the company’s business offering, and allowing it to push the boundaries of design excellence.


While the company dominates the booming brackish groundwater treatment market in the US, it is simultaneously flying the flag for innovative uses of membrane treatment. Its work as the membrane treatment specialist for the latest stage of the world’s largest indirect potable water purification and reuse project at Orange County offers a model for sustainable water management in a rapidly changing world for water resources.


GS Inima

What is it?

A Korean-owned Spanish private water specialist, with expertise in concessions, EPC and operations for water infrastructure projects in countries across the globe.

What has it done?

2020 saw Inima wield its expertise in combining investment, design, construction and operations in the desalination sector to devastating effect. A bold year of business development was capped by a huge breakthrough at a brace of sites in Oman, while at the same time its new plants and R&D efforts offered an outline of what top-line desal performance will look like in years to come.

What makes it special?

Bold bidding and tireless business development paid off in spades in 2020, with the company securing two breakthrough contracts in Oman in the Barka V (100,000m3/d) and Ghubrah III (300,000m3/d) plants. Securing signoff on the pair was a massive breakthrough in a market that had suffered from slow progress in recent years. The Barka plant sets new standards for scale, as the largest project yet for both Inima and for Oman.

Last year also saw the completion of construction on the 39,000m3/d Atacama desalination plant in Chile, a project that promises to rewrite the rules on energy consumption in desal. The plant looks set to smash the ambitious 2.8kWh/m3 consumption target it was set, creating a new energy benchmark for the world’s desalination market suppliers.


The new references secured will allow Inima to further accelerate the R&D efforts that have underpinned its design expertise. The Barka plant will act as a major testbed for the company’s revolutionary reverse osmosis with simple intake and pre-treatment (ROWSIP) design standard that offers the hope of reducing the capital cost of reverse osmosis treatment by 5% or more, and reducing energy consumption by around 8%.


Saline Water Conversion Corporation

What is it?

The state-controlled body that owns and operates all of Saudi Arabia’s public desalination plants, with a portfolio of facilities producing 9 million m3/d of water. Water produced by SWCC plants accounts for 74% of the domestic supply, and around 22% of global seawater desalination capacity.

What has it done?

In a year of transition for the world’s largest desalination market, SWCC repositioned itself as a champion of desalination technology and performance while continuing to award and build some of the world’s largest new facilities. A key corporate restructuring means it is well set to reap the further rewards of change in the future.

What makes it special?

In 2020 the corporation saw the first results from a massive desalination building programme aimed at upgrading and replacing ageing facilities. With first water delivered from major plants at Khobar and Shoaiba, as well as a number of sites on the west coast, SWCC has taken a major step toward a modernised desalination portfolio that will dramatically reduce its fuel footprint and save billions of dollars in operating costs each year.

The transfer of SWCC’s water transmission assets to new body WTTCO was a bold restructuring move that saw the creation of a new infrastructure champion for the Kingdom, while leaving SWCC leaner and able to focus on its core business of desalination performance.


The corporation has wielded its unparalleled scale and expertise in operations to push the limits of desalination technology and performance. Its sites are testbeds for the most exciting technological breakthroughs in areas like brine management, mineral recovery and thermal desal optimisation, while new facilities have consistently smashed the 3kWh/m3 energy consumption benchmark.


Veolia Sidem

What is it?

A world-leading technology provider, boasting one of the world’s largest portfolios of installed desalination capacity, and an unrivalled breadth of thermal and membrane desalination expertise.

What has it done?

Veolia Sidem kept its place at the cutting edge of the desalination market in 2020 by doubling down on its core systems expertise. Reflecting a company-wide commitment to focusing on technologies and efficiency, Sidem’s desalination activities in 2020 further consolidated its position at the forefront of the industry at a time when the pace of technological change is accelerating rapidly.

What makes it special?

Sidem’s string of successes in desalination in the Gulf placed it in the very centre of the boom in mega-projects that are delivering water to end users with greater efficiency and at lower prices than ever before. The company brought its endless technical know-how to diverse teams of developers and contractors that have over 1.5 million m3/d of desalination capacity currently under construction.

Not satisfied with continuing to deliver on traditional membrane desalination projects, Sidem also showed its technical prowess by releasing its Barrel seawater reverse osmosis system. By taking pre-fabricated, containerised desalination systems to a new level, the Barrel holds the potential to revolutionise the delivery of small- and mid-scale desalting. The system’s remote sensing and control capabilities also represent a step-change in digital connectivity for the desalination industry.


In addition to its prowess in membrane technology, Sidem showed that demand for its thermal desalination expertise still remains, commissioning multi-effect distillation systems for clients in Libya and Abu Dhabi.


The Global Water Awards 2021 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

%d bloggers like this: