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"Desalination plays a fundamental role in the delivery of fresh water for human consumption"

  • "Desalination plays fundamental role in the delivery of fresh water for human consumption"
  • Desalination know-how: meet the industry leaders is an interview series with major players from the global desalination industry.

About the entity

GS Inima Environment
GS Inima acts in all the phases of the projects in which it participates: Design, Technology, Construction, Operation and Maintenance and develops its activity in both the public and private markets.

GS Inima is a leading company in the global water industry. With recognized technological know-how, it is the company that manages the most plants in the world under a concession contract, something that entails a strong presence and business activity internationally. As a pacesetter in environmental technology, they incorporate the most advanced processes, invest in research and development and carefully ensure their designs are integrated into the landscape, while reducing energy consumption and emissions.

We hear about all of this in this interview with Diego de Vera, the company's Business Development Director, focused on desalination.

Why is it important to invest in non-conventional water resources such as desalination?

For many years now, and increasingly so, water scarcity has affected a large part of the world's population. This has led to the search for alternative, non-conventional sources of water, such as desalination and reuse. In the case of the latter, direct water reuse cannot be used for drinking water in some jurisdictions, thus desalination plays a fundamental role in the delivery of fresh water for human consumption.

In addition, desalinated water production costs have dropped considerably in recent years, making it economically viable. Moreover, there is no the need for subsidies from government entities that usually encourage the development of this type of projects.

Could you tell us about the company's desalination experience and key data?

Since the 80s, GS Inima has been actively operating in the reverse osmosis desalination sector, the most widely used technology nowadays due to its low costs in terms of energy consumption. Our company has more than thirty desalination plants with a capacity of more than 10,000 m3/day and a total installed capacity of more than 1.5 million m3/day, supplying a total population of more than seven million population equivalent.

What are your most important projects in this area at the moment?

Our company's most significant current projects include the following:

  • Atacama desalination plant (38,880-103,680 m3/day). EPC+3 years O&M contract. Located in the Atacama Desert, it supplies drinking water to a population of 210,000 people. It was commissioned in March 2021 and has been in operation since then. Although it is not a large size plant, it is worth noting that the guaranteed consumption is 2.8 kWh/m3, which makes it one of the most energy-efficient plants in the world. In addition, during its performance test, the average value validated in this test was 2.6 kWh/m3.
  • Barka V and Ghubrah III in Oman. 100,000 m3/day and 300,000 m3/day respectively. Both under a twenty-year BOO model, whereby GS Inima finances, designs, builds and will operate both plants. They are currently in the phase of engineering design and early works.  A noteworthy milestone is that both plants were awarded at the same time in December 2020; also, Ghubrah III is the largest plant to be built in the country, as well as the largest project in terms of capacity by GS Inima.
  • Daesan, the first large-capacity plant in South Korea. A 100,000 m3/day desalination plant currently in the phase of detailed engineering design.  It was awarded in 2021, as a result of GS Inima's close collaboration with its parent company in Korea, GS E&C. GS Inima's scope focuses on detailed engineering, equipment supply, supervision of assembly and commissioning.

What are the latest innovations in desalination?

Currently, it seems that innovations in desalination are aimed at optimizing O&M costs and process automation through artificial intelligence technology and digital twins, among others. In addition, one could also mention the synergies between water and renewable energy, since many of the water plants that are currently being planned include an alternative energy source, such as solar and/or wind power.

How do you see the current outlook for desalination worldwide?

Desalination worldwide will continue its sustained growth, at the same time as water scarcity intensifies. More so in the Middle East, but also in other regions such as North Africa, Latin America and Asia.

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