A continuing trend of exploring new technologies and other opportunities makes the Middle East an ideal market for sustainability projects, says Metito MD.
For Big Project ME’s December issue, we sat down with ACWA Power’s chief investment officer, Rajit Nanda to discuss how new developments in renewable power is transforming water desalination techniques in the GCC. To take that conversation forward, we spoke to Fady Juez, managing director at Metito, to understand how the water management company is positively impacting water preservation, responsible consumption and wastewater recycling and reuse in the region.
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that nearly 663 million people lack access to an improved water source. The situation is expected to deteriorate further as a result of rising populations, urbanisation and industrialisation. Furthermore, lack of sufficient knowledge among consumers about water scarcity, the importance of safe water access and the prospects of conflicts pertaining to water security are expected to aggravate the scenario,” said Juez in an exclusive interview with MECN.
“At Metito, sustainability is integral to our day-to-day work and the delivery of our core solutions and projects. We are committed to securing clean and safe water access most sustainably through our projects, utilities and investments – this is also a core part of our CSR agenda.”
Moreover, as part of its efforts in creating a sustainable environment, Metito has retrofitted a solar roof system at its HQ in Dubai, that fully covers the energy needs of its factory and offices while also feeding into the municipal grid.
Likewise, Metito has collaborated with Dubai Parks and Resorts, Emaar, and Sharjah Airport Authority’s expansion project to deploy water technologies in the UAE. With Dubai Parks and Resorts, Metito created a comprehensive water management solution focusing on water recycling and reuse, while the treated sewage effluent plant is in line with the park’s sustainability policies.
Emaar’s project saw Metito develop a wastewater recycling and treated sewage effluent plant with a capacity of 20,000 cubic metres per day.
“The treated sewage effluent plant produces feed water for district cooling for Burj Khalifa and makeup water for the world’s tallest choreographed fountain-the Dubai Fountain; this saves almost 40 tons of CO2/day as opposed to using desalinated seawater for the same application,” Juez explained.
He continued, “As part of Sharjah Airport Authority’s (SAA) comprehensive expansion project, Metito was appointed to undertake the design-build of the new sewage treatment plant and associated works – an effluent processing and treatment facility with the capacity of approximately 3,000 cubic metre per day with provision for future capacity expansion to 4,500 cubic metre per day.”
During the International Desalination Association World Congress 2019, held in October, Metito signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Ras Al Khaimah Government to work on the rehabilitation of Al Falaya sewage treatment plant.
Juez said, “The project covers the initial water treatment stages and the expansion of the plant’s capacity for future phases. Other developments that are parallel to the main rehabilitation project include the improvement of odour control and instalment of automated electrical boards.”
He also noted that Metito is expanding into new territories, especially to Bangladesh and Turkey. A Metito-led consortium, together with JinkoPower and Al Jomilah was named the lowest bidder for a tender to build a 45-55 MW grid-tied solar plant. The bid was $0.0749/kWh, the lowest ever recorded in Bangladesh.
“In September 2019, we acquired the majority shares of a Turkish chemistry company Info Group, as part of our efforts to expand further into emerging markets. Turkey has shown incredible growth and investments in numerous areas, water being one of them, and this acquisition is a positive step for the country’s economy.”
“The Middle East has always been an ideal market for sustainability projects with so much room to grow in terms of economic diversification, as countries move away from their dependence on oil.”
“We see great potential and appetite for wastewater recycling and reuse and we are confident that we will see more of such projects in the years to come. Meanwhile, we will focus on looking at innovative and eco-friendly technology to lower the cost of operations across existing and upcoming projects,” Juez asserted.
The Middle East is expected to spend over $120 billion on water investment by 2050, and public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) are one viable investment to address this demand.
Juez said that they have seen huge potential in the MENA region and GCC as well as the Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of launching and leading PPPs.
“There is a growing appetite for PPPs, and we have seen projects that have been undertaken using this model succeed because the following are present: political will, relationships between government and private institutions and the understanding of the need for technical expertise and knowledge transfer. We believe that the making of a credible, high-quality PPP is driven by these institutional factors that establish a strong framework with a long-term timeline.”
He said that their main remit to innovate water management solutions is in line with Dubai’s vision, and they foresee an industry that is more environmentally conscious by driving fundamental change through sustainable projects across water-stressed markets and community engagement programs.
“Individuals and organisations must play their role if we want to evoke positive change in the world-water balance. We are working hand-in-hand with media, schools and university students to conduct workshops and project site visits. With these events, we share real-life data and statistics, latest technologies and discuss the concept of water scarcity, preservation, recycling and reuse.”
“The water-energy nexus is a growing challenge and more needs to be done to ensure cleaner, greener energy for some of the most energy-intensive treatment systems such as desalination. More R&D is needed, and newer technologies need to be tested and tried to move forward. The use of alternative energy is growing in demand; it is important that we continue exploring the future of renewables as part of our portfolio diversification,” he concluded.