"We must start looking at the cost of ‘not having water’, finding ways to diversify water sources”
A world leading provider of seawater desalination plants, IDE Water Technologies is behind some of the world’s largest SWRO plants in operation – in Sorek, Israel – setting a benchmark in low cost and technological advancement, with high efficiency and minimal environmental impact.
Earlier this summer, IDE Water Technologies announced an agreement with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to prepare a desalination plant project which will be procured using the Swiss challenge model. The project will support the increasing demand for drinking water in the populous city while taking into account environmental sustainability. We spoke with Alon Tavor, CEO of IDE Water Technologies, about this collaboration opportunity with MCGM, the company’s involvement in water supply initiatives in India, and his view on global water industry trends.
Could you tell us briefly about your career path and your current role in IDE Technologies?
I have over three decades of experience in the industrial sector and more than 15 years in senior executive positions, leading multiple companies in various fields of activity. Over the years I have been involved in strategic restructuring, entrepreneurship, acquisitions, and efficiency enhancement, which has made me experienced in multiple technologies and industries. With in-depth knowledge in water treatment technologies, I hold a combination of technical, commercial, and project-related experience.
Before taking on my current position as CEO of the company, I led the tender preparation and submission for Sorek B – one of the world’s largest seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants, which incorporates state-of-the-art technological advancements and the world’s lowest levelized water price to date. I hold an MBA and a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
We're excited to bring our advanced desalination technology to Mumbai and help the city take the necessary steps toward water resilience
Earlier this summer, IDE announced an agreement with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to develop a long-term project to build and operate a 200 million liters per day (MLD) seawater desalination plant. Can you give us more details about this project?
Through this long-term project, which is developed under the Swiss Challenge method, we intend to serve Mumbai's municipal needs and augment and diversify the region's drinking water sources. We're incredibly excited to bring our advanced desalination technology – envisaged to reach the capacity of 400 MLD – to Mumbai and help the city take the necessary steps toward water resilience. The proposed desalination plant at Manori is evidence of our advanced technology. As a result, the city leaders have the confidence to work jointly to grow Mumbai's drinking water sources and overcome challenging conditions to provide a reliable and sustainable supply of high-quality water at a reduced cost.
Our competent team in India is currently involved in several tenders, both for industrial and municipal water treatment facilities
What are IDE’s plans for involvement in India’s water management initiatives?
IDE has been working in India for more than three decades and has supported local growth in water production. We have our competent team in India, and we are currently involved in several tenders, both for industrial and municipal water treatment facilities.
One of the challenges met in India's past desalination projects was the operation and maintenance, and several plants were not meeting the committed performance. We believe that DBO (design, build, operate) is a suitable model for challenging cases. In this model, the EPC's innovative engineering and execution ensures that the plant is built in the best possible way, as the same group must meet the operation goals for many years.
In a DBO model, an EPC contract ensures the plant is built in the best possible way, as the same group must meet the operation goals
As you know, IDE has vast capabilities in operation and maintenance, and we look forward to being an active, meaningful participant in the future water supply of India.
In parallel, IDE has unique technologies – Pulse Flow Reverse Osmosis (PFRO™), MAXH2O Desalter – for treating industrial streams, including brine minimization, high recovery solutions, and optimized waste composition. These technologies are believed to serve the need to reduce water footprint, meet regulatory requirements, and improve economics.
What trends do you see in business models in water infrastructure and services across the world?
I believe that today’s trends and business models are constantly evolving. Global climate changes will enforce the water industry to be able to manage significant fluctuation in every parameter. Availability, quality of water sources, variating flows, and storage solutions are only part of the future challenges. As industry leaders in one of the most critical elements of our existence, we must act toward a more sustainable supply of water.
As industry leaders in one of the most critical elements of our existence, we must act toward a more sustainable supply of water
We must start looking at the cost of "not having water," therefore finding ways to diversify and combine water sources and their delivery systems.
Looking at the above, it seems that combined efforts of governments and the private sector (P3 or HAM models) are required to meet those challenges at the right time. But, unfortunately, too many countries are still hesitant or unable to take the first step, while the world is changing very fast.
What are your thoughts on the digital transformation of the water industry?
We are excited about the development of the digital world inside the water industry. In some ways, our industry is behind many sectors that implemented technological change years ago. Adopting substantial advancement assists in improving efficiencies, reducing energy and chemical consumptions, and optimizing capacities.
The combined efforts of governments and the private sector (P3 or HAM models) are required to meet challenges at the right time
Digital transformation is part of our responsibility for a sustainable world, and IDE is increasing its efforts to ensure that our services will include added value in that field. On top of the more common activities, we believe the water industry should adopt high standards to defend itself in the cyber world. The more sophisticated the plants, the more they are exposed to cyber-attacks, which cannot be allowed in our critical service. IDE employs several unique solutions in our toolkit and is planning to expand its position in that field.
Can you comment on IDE’s plans for expansion in the municipal and industrial water markets in the near term?
IDE has been active in these fields for over a decade, involving our innovative engineers in developing new technologies such as our PFRO™ and MAXH2O Desalter.
On top of the more common activities, we believe the water industry should adopt high standards to defend itself in the cyber world
These technologies provide industries and municipalities with essential tools to improve water management – by focusing on maximizing water recovery from effluents and brine streams. Better utilizing our water resources and enhancing wastewater reuse rates is the key to addressing ecological aspects and reaching global water sustainability goals.
What do you see in the future of the water industry 20 years from now?
This is a challenging question because water shouldn't be a resource of concern. We have the technologies to improve production, reuse, purification, and management to ensure that no one will suffer from a shortage of quality water for any purpose. Nevertheless, we are late to react.
Investments in this critical resource and infrastructure are immense, but we need to have exemplary leadership to support implementing those solutions. Unfortunately, though, too many countries suffer from water scarcity, and the steps to mitigate that risk are often slow or unable to be met. While it’s difficult to predict where we’ll be in a couple of decades, my hope is that water treatment innovations and technologies will continue to make advancements and become priorities to the leaders of those regions hardest hit by water shortages.