Home' Technology Review : July August 2012 Contents S5
of experience in design, construction, and operations. The technol-
ogy has developed as well,” making Spanish companies extremely
competitive on the world market. In fact, Cajigas adds, of the top
20 companies in the world active in desalination, seven are Spanish.
In 2009, a new large-scale desalination facility was completed
in the city of Barcelona. The Prat de Llobregat plant, which can
supply up to 20 percent of the city’s drinking water, won a 2 010
Global Water Award for technical achievement from the industry
magazine Global Water Intelligence.
The plant employs more than 5,200 solar panels and a wind tur-
bine, along with energy efficiency technologies and energy recov-
ery features. All together, these reduce the facility’s environmental
impact and its operating costs. (A significant percentage of the cost
of running a desalination plant derives from its energy requirements.)
“Companies are always innovating,” says Cajigas. He adds that
companies are beginning to use filtration membranes to reutilize
wastewater. Companies are designing more compact plants, and
ones that are powered by renewable energy. Some companies are also
developing new methods to disinfect water, increasing the ability to
treat extremely low levels of contami-
nants. Information technology compa-
nies have developed systems to manage
and integrate the massive information
stream water treatment plants require—
pressure and flow data, home meters
to measure consumption, information
about the available and consumed vol-
umes of water, among other data—to
enable smarter water management.
Innovations such as these have made
Spain’s desalination plants some of the
best in the world, and have enabled
Spanish companies to compete world-
wide to design, construct, and oper-
ate water treatment and desalination
plants. Some Spanish companies are
involved in building and operating
the plants, while others manufacture
products to serve the water treatment
market, such as valves, motors, pumps,
and filtration systems.
Spanish water purification compa-
nies are active today in more than 30
countries, from Chile to Australia, in
North Africa, the Middle East, India
and China. They’re developing more
than 30 desalination plants, along
with dozens of other water purifica-
tion plants. Acciona Agua is part of the
partnership behind one of the world’s
largest desalination plants, in Adelaide,
Australia, and Valoriza Agua is constructing one in Perth. And dis-
cussions are underway for the first desalination plant in sub-Saharan
Africa, in Namibia. Other companies, including Befesa, Aqualia,
and Cadagua, are also well-positioned internationally.
The U.S. is also home to three desalination plants built or oper-
ated by Spanish companies: two in Florida and one outside Bos-
ton. In Tampa, the Tampa Bay Desalination Plant had been beset
with problems since its construction began in 1999. After Acciona
Agua took over the plant, in partnership with American Water, it
finally began operations in 2008. Today the plant purifies 25 mil-
lion gallons a day and supplies 10 percent of the drinking water
for the region.
Water treatment extends, of course, beyond desalination, into con-
ventional water purification for drinking water and beyond, and into
industrial purification to deal with waste from industries like mining.
“Spanish companies are very competitive in water treatment,”
says Cajigas. “This is one of our fundamental strengths.”
Industries in sectors as varied as power generation, aerospace, auto-
motive, rail, and domestic appliances depend on machine tools to
create their products. And the Spanish companies that support
their efforts—machine tool manufacturers as well as companies
that produce accessories, component parts, and tools—provide
the necessary means. In 2011, exports from Spain reached 120
countries and accounted for more than 80 percent of the country’s
overall business in this sector.
Spain’s machine tool industry has been “supplying technology
and production equipment to the main sectors of the economy
for more than 65 years,” says José Ignacio Torrecilla, president of
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, the Spanish trade associa-
tion. This has helped Spanish companies “improve their competi-
tiveness and that of the country,” he adds.
Today, Spain’s machine tool sector is the third largest in the Euro-
pean Union, and includes some of the world’s leading companies.
“To make things in steel—machinery, foundry, mills, stamping,
lathes—these are traditional skills of people here,” explains Félix
Remírez, commercial manager of the machine tool company Fagor
Arrasate, referring to the long metalworking tradition along the
lush, green mountains in the north of Spain.
Machine tools can transform coils or sheets of metals into all the
shapes and components needed for the trappings of modern life.
They perform tasks such as rolling and stretching metal into flat
sheets; stamping it into all manner of shapes; cutting, drilling, and
grinding to precise specifications. And their precision has increased
dramatically in recent years, as companies such as Nicolás Correa,
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