Water Desalination in Israel
According to the framework of the plan, the objective of the plan is to increase the volume of water desalinated in Israel up to at least 750 mcm (million cubic meters) per year, of which 550 mcm will be completed by the year 2013, and the rest of them until 2020. Currently 138 mcm of water are desalinated in the Ashkelon and Ashdod plants and 100 mcm capacity facility is being constructed in Hadera.
This enterprise shall significantly improve the state of the water economy in Israel to such extent that even during harsh drought years such as those we are experiencing nowadays, the water economy will continue to function properly, since the quantity of water in the sea is endless and we can pump as much as we wish, therefore desalinated water is supplied on a constant basis.
Israel is regarded pioneer in the area of water desalination. The Ashkelon facility of reverse osmosis (membrane processes), is the biggest and most advanced of its kind in the world. Desalination solves water shortage, improves the quality of water and is an economical alternative, since during recent years the cost of desalination decreased substantially and it prevents economic losses of parching of gardens and agricultural lands.
The cost of desalination of cubic meter of water is NIS 2.6 – 3.1, while damages caused by shortage of water are estimated at about NIS 8 per each cubic meter of water not provided for agriculture.
The two main desalination methods are evaporation processes and membrane processes:
In the evaporation process, water is gradually evaporated while passing through several chambers, where pressure and temperature decline gradually. In each chamber certain amount of water evaporates while the salts remain in the remaining water. The water with the salts (approximately half of the raw material) is returned to the sea as brine. The water vapor undergoes condensation process at the end of which we get desalinated water.
The best known and common of membrane processes is reverse osmosis. In this process salt water is pressed against membranes which allow only water to pass through while preventing passage of salts. Water passing through such membranes is desalinated water. Water remaining in the solution is brine removed to the sea or to authorized disposal sites. Due to the energy consumption of evaporation processes, they are appropriate only for countries with very low power prices, while the reverse osmosis is much more energy saving, therefore its use is spreading.
Seawater desalination facilities:
The desalination facility in Ashkelon.
The facility, regarded as the leading facility of its kind in the world, is operational since the year 2005 and supplies more than 108 million of cubic meters of water for the State of Israel, consisting some 15% of domestic water consumption. The facility, which operates by means of the reverse osmosis technology, includes several technological innovations developed by I.D.E technologies and it supplies water of quality regarded as the highest. This facility, like similar one with similar capacity being built in Hadera, was constructed by VID under a BOT contract. According to the contract the entrepreneurs finance and build the desalination plants on national land provided by the state and supply produced water to the Government of Israel at prices fixed for 25 years (including the construction period). At the end of the term of the contract, the ownership of the facility is transferred to the state.
In December 2006 the company announced that the Ashkelon desalination plant won a special prize for "exceptional achievements" during the annual convention of the Israeli Desalination Association. This prize joins the "Desalination Plant of the Year" prize the facility won during the prestigious ceremony of Global Water. The Ashkelon desalination plant, already known in the international water industry as the largest and most advanced facility of its kind in the world, won the prize in recognition of its huge technological contribution to the technological and economic promotion of the international desalination industry. These wins firmly establish the status of the Ashkelon desalination plant as the leader in the area of desalination in Israel and worldwide.
The Palmachim desalination plant:
The facility supplies some 30 million of cubic meters of water per year since May 2007, through a connection to the West Yarkon pipeline, which on its part is connected to the national water system. The facility operates by means of the reverse osmosis technology, similar to the desalination plant in Ashkelon.
The facility was built by the "Via Maris Desalination" partnership. The facility was built according to the B.O.O. method. The desalination plant was constructed in such a way that it can be expanded in the future. The potential of the facility, land wise and main systems is double, up to 60 – 70 million of cubic meters per year.
The Hadera desalination facility
This facility, located on the premises of the "Rabin Lights" power plant, is expected to supply water starting September 2009. The facility which will operate by means of the reverse osmosis technology will produce 100 million of cubic meters of high quality water per year. The contract signed with the state is based on the BOT principle for a period of 25 years (including construction time).
In March 2008 the desalination facility in Hadera won the "Deal of the Year 2007" prize by the leading magazine Project Finance Magazine for the financing deal of the project. The project will be mostly financed by a consortium of foreign banks only. It is noteworthy that it is the first time that such a project is financed by foreign banks: 50% the European Investment Bank– EIB; 25% Bank Caylon (a French investment bank specializing in long term projects); and 25% Bank Esperito Santo (a Portuguese investment bank).
Contact us - Water Authority:
Mr. Abraham Tene - Head of Water Desalination Division