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Efficient water, energy and land use – together they make up the future of sustainability

By: Mickey Chesla

Today global thinking on sustainability is undergoing a revolution. Whereas once we may have looked at water efficiency, alternative energy and land use as separate issues, today our understanding is growing that in order to truly address sustainability, we need to look at all three together. McKinsey & Company recently issued an important report on this subject: “Resource Revolution: Meeting the world’s energy, materials, food and water needs”. Aquate Group is one Israeli company at the forefront of this new approach. Aquate has developed a triple-purpose infrastructure solution that produces new water in reservoirs, generates solar energy, and increases agricultural land.

Currently, Israel manages to reclaim around 75% of its urban sewage water, which is mostly used for agricultural irrigation. Israel is the global leader in water reclamation usage, with other countries trailing far behind.

In order to ensure that reclaimed water reaches its destination in optimal form, reservoirs need to be protected from the sun, which causes evaporation and high water salinity. The ideal method for protecting reservoir water is to use reservoir covers, a proven solution. Top-standard reservoir covers offer two major advantages—they serve as both water reclamation facilities and as roofs for installing solar panels. These facilities not only protect the water in the reservoir, but also produce renewable solar energy without using up valuable agricultural land (as happens with large terrestrial solar applications). Aquate is currently leading the deployment of these next generation multi-purpose reservoir covers. The focus in the water and energy industries on resource efficiency and productivity explains why Aquate has been receiving plenty of attention from key stakeholders in governments, businesses, and NGOs.

Aquate was established in 2006 and has locations in Israel and the Unites States. Barak Yekutiely serves as CEO and Chairman, and works in conjunction with the company’s 26 shareholders, senior executives, and engineers. The Aquate team has over 30 years of experience managing reservoir cover projects and solar energy installations.

The company operates on the basis of BAT – Best Available Technology. Aquate assesses and integrates the best available technologies into its proprietary and engineered infrastructure to provide a tailored and fully-financed solution for each individual project in order to ensure maximum long-term performance. To facilitate this, Aquate runs its own technology validation plant in Israel and has an expert team covering all aspects of project creation—design, regulatory approval, finance, construction, and maintenance.

Aquate’s projects pipeline covers 10% of all existing water reservoirs in Israel. Select projects under development involve The Israel Electric Corp.; the enhancement of Israel’s first pumped storage hydroelectricity facilities in the Gilboa and Manara with Electra; and the Moshavei Hanegev Development Company, the largest agricultural company in Israel.

Recently, at Israel’s leading industry event—the WATEC Exhibition (International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy & Environmental Control), Aquate signed a ground-breaking agreement with Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.

According to the agreement, Mekorot will give Aquate a 24-year lease on a 25-acre reservoir. Both companies estimate that the deal will save 4 million cubic meters of water. Aquate plans to establish an integrated evaporative water reclamation cover system on the reservoir, as well as a six megawatt solar plant.

Due to global interest in Aquate’s MRP activities and their immense potential, London-based Ernst & Young has developed an economic model for MRP solutions, and The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working on establishing guidelines for setting an international standard for MRP.

Aquate’s innovations are leading a fascinating niche for MRP solutions involving water, energy, and land resources. The opportunity for MRP solutions is immense – McKinsey & Company, in a November 2011 report, estimated the MRP market at $3 trillion.


Energy, Solar Energy, Water, Water Security
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