Solar Water Plc

Fresh Water from the Sun

Solar WaterTM technology generates unlimited fresh water through an innovative, carbon neutral and completely sustainable technology. Unlike current desalination solutions it does not rely on any fossil fuels or harm ocean life by dumping salt back into the sea.

 

Specialties

Provide fresh water generation in regions where shortages are becoming acute and where current methods of production are no longer environmentally sustainable.

Produce hydro-infrastructure that is economical, carbon-neutral and completely sustainable and that produces ongoing amounts of freshwater for multiple uses.

Industry

Fresh Water from the Sun

Company size

1-10

Country

United Kingdom

Company address

Salisbury House, London Wall, , London EC2M 5PS

Solar WaterTM technology generates unlimited fresh water through an innovative, carbon neutral and completely sustainable technology.

What’s inside this giant ‘solar dome’ coming to Saudi Arabia

What’s inside this giant ‘solar dome’ coming to Saudi Arabia

Wiredhttps://wired.me/science/environment/desalination-solar-dome-saudi-arabia-neom/

29 Jan 2021

Malcolm Aw’s quest to create fresh water using the power of the sun started out with two salad bowls.

It was the early 1980s, and the entrepreneur was sitting on his balcony on a bright, sunny London day. Pondering the power of the rays beaming down from our star 150 million kilometers above his head, Aw conducted an experiment that wouldn’t be out of place in a high-school science class.

He placed some saltwater in a salad dish, with another, larger bowl on top. After a while, somewhat unsurprisingly, some of the salt water evaporated and condensed, gathering in a tray below.

It wasn’t exactly a eureka moment. But it did set Aw’s mind racing as to how such a basic principle could be used on a grand scale. And, almost 40 years after that improvised experiment, he is trying to make this a reality in the Middle East.

It’s no secret that the world’s looming water crisis affects this region more than most. According to the World Resources Institute, 12 of the 17 countries facing “extremely high” water stress are in the Middle East and North Africa.

The lack of natural water resources in the Arabian Gulf, especially, has led to some expensive, and highly polluting measures. The Gulf has the dubious honor of being the world’s “leader” in desalinated water, producing 40 percent of the world’s total supply, according to a study in early 2020. Saudi Arabia—home to the world’s largest water desalination facility at Al-Jubail, and which is expected to invest $80 billion in similar projects over the next 10 years—is responsible for about a fifth of the world’s total output.

Desalination plants spew out a combined 76 million tons of CO2 per year, with emissions expected to grow to around 218 million tons by 2040 if no action is taken, according to Abu Dhabi sustainability initiative Masdar. Yet they also pose a specific danger to marine life, thanks to the salty water that gets pumped back into the sea, warns Leticia Reis de Carvalho, coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Water Management Branch.

Waste brine from desalination can limit the growth of marine organisms, increase seawater temperature, and lower the levels of dissolved oxygen, causing further harm to aquatic life, Carvalho says.

“Hot and highly saline brine associated with desalination facilities, a range of pollutants, high energy use, and associated repercussions including carbon emissions, represent… increasing environmental threats,” she adds.

It is a problem Malcolm Aw thinks he can solve. After his balcony experiment, Aw became consumed in other projects. But the entrepreneur returned to the idea in 2000, forming a company called Water L’eau—a pun on the English and French words for “water”—and which later became the somewhat less playfully named Solar Water, a UK-based company looking to deliver “carbon neutral” desalination.

Developing the salad-bowl desalination concept was “not rocket science,” says Aw—but still took many years. It was accelerated by an association with the UK’s Cranfield University, where a proof of concept was developed over the course of six months in collaboration with researchers and students.

The bowl will be much bigger this time. Imagine a sphere formed by a dome extending 25 meters into the air, which covers a cauldron extending a further 25 meters into the ground. Solar Water envisages seawater being transported inland via aqueducts topped with glass that, under sunlight, would warm the water. This would then feed into the cauldron, where it would be superheated thanks to energy feeding down from the “solar dome.” The glass-and steel dome would itself be heated using concentrating solar power (CSP), with more than 100 solar reflectors around the structure directing the sun’s energy onto the frame. After the salt water evaporates, it condenses as freshwater as it is piped to reservoirs.

Although similar technology has been used to generate electricity—typically by generating heat to create steam, driving a turbine—this is one of the first to use it directly for desalination. Yet Aw downplays the sophistication of the tech involved. “Basically what we have is a huge kettle,” he says. “You can’t get more simple than that: We have a big kettle boiling water, and producing 30,000 cubic meters per hour.” There is a little more to it than that. The mirrors surrounding the dome have to be adjusted to maximize efficiency. “It’s like a sunflower—it’s got to follow the sun,” says Aw. “Even though it’s a very simple thing, there has to be precision.”

The problem of leftover salt remains. Aw says Solar Water’s system allows for the byproduct to be drained away to tanks, which can then be sold on to, for example, battery producers.

Some have expressed reservations about the feasibility of the design, as well as some of the projected production costs. One estimate was 34 US cents per cubic meter of water produced—significantly lower than desalination plants using reverse osmosis methods. The solar dome is yet to be tested on an industrial scale.

But that is going to change. Neom, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious $500 billion country-within-a-country currently under development, said in January it had signed an agreement with Solar Water to pilot the first ever solar dome. The initial plan is for a 25-meter desalination sphere, followed by three more of between 50 and 80 meters, says Aw. Work on the first plant was expected to be completed by the end of this year, although the announcement was made before the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic was known.

Solar Water also says it has signed a contract with a Jordanian mining company, and hopes to have several plants under construction by the end of the year.

The water produced could be used as drinking water—although further treatment would be required—but Aw sees a major use as being in desert farming and irrigation.

“We can build miles of canals into the middle of the desert, and turn the desert green,” he says. “We can reverse climate change. The only thing we need is water… We can make the desert blossom.”

Aw believes solar technology could replace traditional desalination plants—but that would not, of course, happen overnight.

“We got out of the Stone Age, but not because we ran out of stones. So we can get out of fossil fuel age by going straight on to solar power,” he says. “There are 18,000 desalination plants across the world. If we can replace all of them in due course, can you imagine how healthy the ocean would become? Because at the moment, what they are doing is horrible.”

Additional research by Malavika Kodiyath

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Saudis Plan ‘Solar Dome’ Desalination Plants at Neom Mega-City

Saudis Plan ‘Solar Dome’ Desalination Plants at Neom Mega-City

Bloomberg article by Vivian Nereim and Anthony Di Paola

29 Jan 2021

Saudi Arabia plans to use a new solar technology to desalinate seawater at Neom, a mega-city that it’s developing along the country’s northern Red Sea coast.

Neom will have the world’s first “solar dome” desalination plants, which it said will produce no carbon emissions and create less brine than facilities using conventional reverse osmosis technology, according to a statement. The solar dome plants will also process drinking water more cheaply than conventional plants, at 34 cents per cubic meter, Neom said.

The city’s developer signed an agreement with U.K.-based Solar Water Plc to build the plants. Construction will begin in February and be completed this year, Neom said, without giving estimates for the cost of the project or the amount of drinking water it will process.

 

Unlike reverse osmosis, in which seawater passes through plastic membranes that remove the salt, Neom will pump ocean water into a dome-like structure of glass and steel. There it will be heated until it evaporates and precipitates as fresh water, Neom said.

How the Sun Might Help Quench Gulf Arabs’ Thirst: QuickTake Q&A

The government envisions Neom as a $500 billion project that will include resorts, hi-tech manufacturing and automation. It’s a showpiece of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s goal of curtailing the conservative kingdom’s dependence on crude oil by diversifying the economy. Since it was announced in 2017, however, international investors have been slow to commit to Neom, citing concerns about its commercial viability and political risk.

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Malcolm Aw

Malcolm Aw

Founder, Executive Chairman & Chief Technology Officer

[email protected]

Founder of the company and Inventor of the dome and its technologies, used his own private capital to finance the business through the initial research and development phase. Passionate about the application of Solar WaterTM’s potential to make world changing impacts by the plentiful provision of fresh water, he has had a stellar career as an inventor, lateral thinker, geopolitical economist and entrepreneur in many countries.

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David Reavley

David Reavley

Chief Executive Officer

[email protected]

David is a highly experienced executive who has held board positions in UK and Internationally renowned tech companies. Having always been involved at the forefront of new technologies, David was led to join Solar Water Plc not only because of its proven, award-winning solution but also because of its obvious global benefits. David is a frequent speaker at conferences, a published author in his industry and a visiting lecturer at University College London on their MSc course ‘Telecommunications and Business’.

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James Whitehead

James Whitehead

Chief Client Officer

[email protected]

James is an international executive with a passion and strength in creating partnerships and solutions with clients, partners and teams, for mutually beneficial commercial objectives. He has 10 years of general management experience as CEO and MD of WPP businesses focused on the success of such partnerships; and 25 years working with clients in all regions around the world. His expertise is in general management & commercial, business development & client relations, sales & marketing. James has previously worked on a range of sustainable solutions across business categories, and with an MA Hons in Human Geography (incl a study of the world’s water crisis), is a champion of Solar Water Plc’s ground-breaking, sustainable freshwater solution.

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Ngen Yap

Ngen Yap

Chief Financial Officer

[email protected]

Ngen takes pride in his financial stewardship across strategic, commercial, operational and governance areas. He served as CFO for over 8 years and held multiple global & regional client commercial finance roles within one of WPP UK group companies in his 15 years stint there. Before that, Ngen was a corporate consultant advising SMEs in their growth ambitions. He currently holds directorships across several startups. Ngen loves building relationships to succeed and deliver value together. Ngen holds a BSc Hons in Accounting & Finance from the University of Warwick, is a fellow of the ICAEW since 2011 and is conversant in Chinese and Malay.

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Guy Reavley

Guy Reavley

VP Strategy & Operations

[email protected]

Guy has proven success in both entrepreneurial and large enterprise executive roles. He started, built and sold three companies in Networking, Mobile Telephony and Internet Service Provision in the UK. Over the past 17 years, he has held executive positions with Cisco and HP in both EMEA and APJC within strategy, planning and operations, business development and sales management.

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Robert Lloyd

Robert Lloyd

VP Engineering

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Robert’s background in Architecture and passion for sustainable solutions led him to join Solar Water Plc, immediately understanding Malcolm’s vision, the worldwide potential and need for a zero carbon industrial desalination plant. His previous experiences along with his Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Architecture Technology have allowed him to develop an extensive range of technical skills, and project management.

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Andrew Walsh

Andrew Walsh

VP Technical Services

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As a fully qualified electro-mechanical engineer and with over 30 years commercial and technical experience – 10 of which has been focussed within the discipline of renewables – especially Photovoltaics – Andy brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Solarwaterplc . He has worked all over the world, from EMEA, to APAC countries. Andy is a Bachelor of Engineering and holds Fellowships of both the RSA and The Institute of Sales and Marketing.

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Ken Ogura

Ken Ogura

Digital Manager

[email protected]

Ken manages Solar Water’s digital streams and supports marketing. He joined Solar Water as a contractor in the early months of 2020. As well as working for Solar Water, Ken works for Bywaters, London’s leading sustainable waste management company. He also has three years of experience at British Water, a dynamic trade association covering all water and wastewater industry sectors.

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Prof. Chris Sansom

Prof. Chris Sansom

Director

[email protected]

Chris is the Head of Cranfield University’s Global Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Laboratory. He heads a team which, in addition to running Ph.D courses for post graduate students, is actively involved with work on behalf of clients including the Company. These include the European Union, NASA and major global corporates. The CSP team undertakes projects in all areas of solar technology including electrical power generation, thermal power storage, water purification, heliostat design and manufacture, and polymer films for solar collectors. Chris is the sole UK representative on the EERA-Joint Committee on CSP which steers EU research into CSP, and he consults regularly for different departments of the UK government as well as acting as an adviser to government bodies in Saudi Arabia, Libya, India and Pakistan.

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Liam Koh

Liam Koh

Director

[email protected]

Liam has more than 35 years’ experience working in the IT industry and businesses. He has occupied several management positions such as International Director at Arosa Consultores SL , IT Director at Grupo Redur, Director at Asiga SL-Grupo Eptisa,. Liam’s focus in the IT industry includes project management, business development consultancy, telecommunications, software, GIS projects, international engineering projects, European logistics and e-commerce. Liam has strong connections with the Spanish desalination industry and is a promoter of the Iberia/ASEAN Chamber of Commerce. He has been with Solar Water Plc since its inception and therefore knows the company, stakeholders and technology. He has a Bachelor of Science (1st Hons) in Computer Science from City University in London, and a Master of Science in Management from the Imperial College, London University. He has a broad range management, technical and organisational skills and is fluent in English and Spanish and furthermore speaks both Malay and Chinese.

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Dr. Xavier Tonnellier

Dr. Xavier Tonnellier

Director

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Xavier is a process engineer in the Optical Fabrication group at Safran-Reosc in France. From 2004-2018 he worked on CSP projects at Cranfield University with Prof. Christopher Sansom. He is a graduate of Grande Ecole – Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs – ENIT from which he holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering with specialisation in International Business. He has a Ph.D in Precision Engineering. He has designed and built novel CSP systems with applications in the UK, India and the MENA region, and has authored a considerable number of scientific papers.

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Esther Parks

Esther Parks

Marketing Consultant

[email protected]

Esther is a Senior Account Director at our partner agency, 2112 Communications and within her role provides consultation and support to Solar Water Plc. Esther has been working in marketing and communications for over 25 years; exceeding expectations, doing more and helping clients go further. Adding value at every stage and challenging thinking to deliver well-conceived campaigns, on time and on budget. www.2112comms.com

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