Water Journal : Water Journal June 2013
MEMBRANES & DESALINATION WORKSHOP Presented by the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination and the AWA Membranes and Desalination Specialist Network More than 70 Ozwater'13 delegates were given a behind-the-scenes look into the successful delivery of Australia's newest desalination plants at this workshop, led by National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia CEO Neil Palmer. The workshop explored the re nancing and lease of Sydney Water's $2.3 billion plant to a Canadian-Australian superfund consortium, detailed South Australian Water's holistic management of its cutting edge Adelaide Desalination Project, and examined the workings of Western Australia's competitive alliance process championed by the Water Corporation for the state's two desal plants. Workshop participants heard from US desalination expert To m Pankratz of Global Water Intelligence about the rapid rise of alternative project delivery models growing seawater desalination since 1998. Mr Pankratz said total capacity of current projects worldwide stood at around 25.5 million3/day, and he outlined the project delivery models used in 12 countries such as the ve Build Own and Operate Transfer (BOOT) plants in Israel. Mr Pankratz said the popularity of Build Own and Operate (BOO) plants enabled owner- operators to "own the cow, sell the milk", and often included the onsite construction of an independent power supply. Sydney Water (SW) Capital and Procurement Manager Daniel Hunter told Ozwater delegates about the tight timeframe process of shortlisting three bids from an initial 85 to remove $1.8 million debt incurred for its Kurnell Desalination Plant from SW and the NSW Government's balance sheets in 2011--2012. This enabled the freeing-up of capital needed to nance other infrastructure while ensuring the 250mL/d Sydney plant would be able to produce high-quality drinking water for up to 15 per cent of the city's needs and could be expanded in the future to 500mL/d. Mr Hunter said the new large, world-class asset was 'ring-fenced', 'de-risked', included pipeline and offered decent return in order to attract the interest of large superfunds. Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Hastings Fund Management won the bidding process. South Australia Water's Project and Operations Director, Milind Kumar, told workshop participants not to believe media reports falsely claiming that the state's 100GL/a Adelaide plant had been mothballed. In fact the $1.8 billion plant -- which was doubled in capacity during construction to be able to provide half of the city's needs from a climate-independent source -- has so far supplied 35 billion litres into the water grid and set new environmental benchmarks for plant infrastructure. As part of SA Water's genuine collaborative approach to contracting, care of staff and robust stakeholder engagement, each worker on the Adelaide Project was encouraged to perform to highest standards and thanked individually for their contribution. Local indigenous culture, ora and fauna were recognised in the design and content of the plant's unique interpretation centre for the public, which is booked solidly for tours. Success included engaging head-on with risk to "unlock hidden opportunity", creating processes to support critical staff and activities, good communication of the "big picture", and key decision rationale to get "100 per cent alignment". Mr Kumar said the ADP had been of cially recognised by many trade and water associations in Australia and internationally, and featured the world's largest ultra- ltration pre-treatment system to improve reverse osmosis membrane life and reduce operational costs. More than 600 local businesses were involved in the construction with over 10,000 workers onsite. The plant has so far been visited by more than 16,000 members of the public. WA Water Corporation Principal Project Manager, Chris Davie, spoke about the two-year process to develop a competitive alliance for WA's desal plants -- the Southern Seawater Alliance (SSWA). He detailed the successful knitting together of a project alliance leadership team, which seconded staff and operated on a basis where "win-win or lose-lose were the only acceptable outcomes", and decisions were made on a unanimous "best for project basis" in a solutions-focused, no-blame culture. Risk was embraced, understood and managed effectively. NCEDA-funded researchers Professor Michael Porter from Deakin University and Professor Jennifer McKay from the University of South Australia also spoke about their new projects investigating better water governance and policymaking surrounding the hundreds of small desalination operations scattered across the country, and the need to raise the importance of desalination as necessary insurance integrated within broader bulk water supply networks. Professor Porter's modelling in collaboration with Grif th University simulating over 100 years' alternative scenarios of drought and desalination with different pricing, nancing and desal investment regimes will be featured at AWA's Membranes and Desalination Conference in Brisbane in July. Following discussion and questions from participants, Director of Victoria University's Institute for Sustainability and Innovation Professor Stephen Gray wrapped up the workshop with a summary of each speaker's main points. 46 Ozwater Report NCEDA scientist Professor Michael Porter from Deakin University and Tom Pankratz, Editor of GWI's Water Desalination Report and member of NCEDA's Commercialisation Advisory Committee.
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