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"Water companies’ greatest challenge is to convey to the user the value of water management"

  • "Water companies’ greatest challenge is to convey to the user the value of water management"
    Photograph by González-Cebrian/Smart Water Magazine

About the entity

The water business of ACCIONA concentrates on water treatment and reverse osmosis desalination, a technology in which it is the world leader.

José Díaz-Caneja graduated as a Civil Engineer from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and has an MBA from IESE (University of Navarra). He started to work at ACCIONA Agua in 2002, and worked in the international business area until 2007. After that he spent four years as Director General at an entity that promotes projects with public-private financing (Foro PPP), before returning to the ACCIONA Agua team in 2011 as Director of Business Development for Middle East and Africa. Since January 1st, 2014, he is the Director General of the Water Division at the ACCIONA group.

Question - What would you highlight from the company's communication strategy over the past year?

Answer  - ACCIONA Agua's communication strategy is closely linked to the company's strategy. We work to ensure transparency, and to transmit the efforts and constant work that make us leaders in water treatment and management.

I think that in the future, Cloud services will offer capabilities that right now we cannot even quantify

Question - What were the main milestones for the company in 2018?

A - This past year, the main milestones were starting out the end-to-end water management contract at Boca del Río, in Mexico, on January 1st, 2018, and the award of two large desalinations plants in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

With the award of these projects, together with the two desalination facilities we built and are already operating in Qatar, and the Al Jubail and Fujairah desalination plants (UAE), also built and currently operated by ACCIONA Agua, make us the leading desalination company in the Middle East.

Q - What business activities is the company planning for 2019?

A - Right now desalination is growing rapidly in terms of the number and the scale of new projects, and we should take advantage of it. We will continue doing business in our priority markets, such as America and the Middle East.

We will also increase our presence in Asia.

Q - What are the current challenges for water companies with regards to communication?

A - The greatest challenge for water companies is conveying to the user the value of water management, and therefore, its cost, including water abstraction, treatment, distribution, collection and discharge into the environment.

Q - What trends do you think will generate buzz in the water sector this coming year?

A - I think the combination of Big Data systems with data analysis technology and machine learning. The sector is already facing this challenge head-on, and right now the phase that will have the biggest impact will be the analysis and potential implementation of improvements thanks to those conclusions.

Q - What technologies are coming forward as the most relevant ones for the future of the sector?

A - I think that in the future, Cloud services will offer capabilities that right now we cannot even quantify. The development and possibilities can grow exponentially, given the high capacity of the cloud.

In terms of specific technologies, all the technologies related to the combination of OT/IT worlds, Cloud, Edge, analytical computation, cognitive algorithms, etc.

A technology that could cause a disruptive change is 5G. Once it is ready to offer its connectivity services, we will start to live in a connected world. From then on, the greatest impact will be the emergence (which we already seeing) of new business and service models.            

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