More than 21 years have passed since ACCIONA started doing business in Portugal. Not only did the company grow over these years, it also became consolidated as a leader in the construction of water and waste water treatment plants
With the last project awarded, ACCIONA already has 25 waste water treatment plants and 5 drinking water treatment plants, which together provide services to some 2.3 million people, almost 25% of the population of Portugal.
But let's go back to the beginning, when ACCIONA was awarded the construction of the Alcantarilha drinking water treatment plant. The plant, with a capacity of 3 m3/s, treats the surface water from the Odelouca reservoir since 2012, as well as the groundwater from the Vale da Vila and Benaciate basins.
The facility is located about 10 kilometres from Silves and 12 kilometres from the Odelouca tunnel, near the city of Alcantarilha. The construction started in October 1998 and was completed at the end of 1999, being the first construction project of ACCIONA in Portugal. Currently, this plant is again the focus of attention because it is being expanded, building two DAF processes with a capacity of 600 l/s each in order to reinforce the treatment scheme, as well as to address the new characteristics of raw water.
ACCIONA already has 25 waste water treatment plants and 5 drinking water treatment plants, which provide services to almost 25% of the population of Portugal
Also worth noting is the Vale de Faro waste water treatment plant, in the Algarve, built for the Câmara Municipal de Albufeira which, located in the Albufeira urban centre, provides treatment services to a 130,000 population equivalent. The greatest challenge was how to integrate it into the landscape: built in a tourist area with hotels, the plant goes unnoticed because it is completely covered. Covering the plant served as a starting point to build a sports park and a green leisure area, including a lake fed with the water treated by the plant itself.
Another facility worth noting is the Vila Real waste water treatment plant; the project to expand and upgrade the plant was awarded to ACCIONA as part of the Águas de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in 2008. The plant, located in a valley in the city of Vila Real, posed a challenge for ACCIONA's engineers: the facility received more water than it could treat and the available land was limited. Therefore, the company had to consider solutions to address the original problems. The first solution to address the storm water impact was creating a tank to attenuate flows, using the existing biological reactor and secondary settling tanks, and building a new secondary treatment line suited for the new water flow.
EDAR Vale de Faro.
On the other hand, the space restriction led to searching for solutions to reduce the surface area the facility would occupy. In this case a Hybas process was chosen, a compact solution based on a MBBR reactor (Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor). The solution initially proposed by the client involved water treatment according to two lines of treatment with totally different processes, whereas the solution developed by ACCIONA enabled reducing operation and maintenance costs through a reduction in the equipment installed, lower energy consumption and analytical needs, and simplified process management in the plant. All of that resulted in an efficient plant that exceeded the needs and expectations of the client.
ACCIONA's hallmark in Portugal is the construction of plants with an optimised design, which are energy efficient and integrated into the landscape, that is why most of its plants are considered to be sustainable.
Following this trend of building efficient plants that are integrated into the landscape, the most recent milestone of ACCIONA in Portugal was the construction of the Faro-Olhão waste water treatment plant, in the place by the same name in the Algarve region. This is the first plant in the Iberian peninsula initially designed using the Nereda® technology, which allows improving biological treatments and energy efficiency.
ACCIONA's hallmark in Portugal is the construction of plants with an optimised design, which are energy efficient
The waste water treatment plant is located one kilometre west of Olhão, in an area of great natural beauty, and its construction has allowed the restoration of the surrounding landscape.
The plant uses an advanced biological treatment process thanks to Nereda® technology, an innovative method for waste water treatment that can be implemented in new and existing plants. In the latter ones, it allows increasing the treatment capacity and improving performance, and it is an optimum solution for older facilities, where the higher demands on processes translate into high energy consumption.
Thanks to this new technology, it was possible to reduce the carbon footprint of the Faro-Olhão plant by 50%. At the same time, we hope to achieve savings between 20% and 30% in the energy used during the waste water treatment process. Moreover, the plant includes solar panels, with a total installed capacity of 50 kW, that allow generating the energy that auxiliary services consume.
ACCIONA in Italy
In addition to its business activity in Portugal, ACCIONA has a strong presence in Italy since 1999, with extensive experience in the construction as well as in the operation and maintenance of different types of water treatment facilities.
A huge milestone for the company's business in Italy was the construction in 2018 of the desalination plant for the Sarlux refinery in Sardinia. The plant has a production capacity of 12,000 m3 per day of demineralised water using ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and electrodeionisation processes, a continuous process to obtain ultra-pure water without using chemicals.
Desalination plant for the Sarlux refinery in Sardinia.
The treated water is used in the industrial processes that the Italian energy company carries out in its refinery located close to Cagliari (Sardinia), one of the largest and more complex facilities of its kind in Europe.
The facility has a total surface area of 1,260 m2, the largest desalination plant for industrial use in the Mediterranean. ACCIONA's design and construction incorporated solutions that minimise the environmental impact, installation costs and time, and improve overall performance efficiency, reducing pressure losses and optimising significantly energy use, among other factors.
A huge milestone for the company's business in Italy was the construction in 2018 of the desalination plant for the Sarlux refinery in Sardinia
Also in Italy, ACCIONA manages sanitation for 18 municipalities and a population of approximately 171,000 people in the areas of Mugello and Valdarno, in the province of Florence. It deals with the maintenance of water and waste water treatment plants in the province of Florencia - Chianti, as well as the repair of any failures in several municipalities in the region, divided into three groups (Parto/Pistoia, Firenze/Chianti and Mugello/Valdarno). The company is also in charge of the inspection of sewerage works and sanitation services in the sewer networks of the province of Taranto.
These are works of strategic importance (including the installation of new pipelines under roads and the expansion of existing networks), which require comprehensive scheduling and planning, and include tasks such as leak detection and the application of non-digital technologies (pipeline repair without digging), thus minimising the environmental impact.