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ITALIAN DESALINATION TECHNOLOGY ON DISPLAY AT WETEX 2009
The countries in the Gulf Region have a constant need for drinking water, driving a formidable demand for desalination plants, and Italy is one of the foremost players in this sector of business. The Islamic Development Bank has recently estimated that in order to satisfy the ever-increasing need for water worldwide, 200 billion dollars will have to be invested in the next ten years, of which 50 billion will be required in the Gulf Region alone. Companies operating in this sector will be able to meet potential clients at the forthcoming Wetex fair, to be held at the World Exhibition Centre in Dubai from March 10th-14th 2009.
Wetex is the most important trade fair in the Middle East not just for the sector involved in water treatment, but also for specialists in energy and environmental technology. The event is becoming more and more important every year: in 2008 it received 12,000 visitors, an increase of 13% over the previous year. Amongst the 300 exhibitors, there were 26 Italian businesses, which means they constituted nearly 10% of contributors. The Italian Trade Commission (ICE) has again decided to organize a joint participation for this year’s event, aiming to consolidate relationships with local businesses operating in the different sectors of energy and environmental technology.
Many types of product will be on show at the fair. They range from systems for treating, transporting, distributing and recycling water to plants for producing and distributing energy, especially from “clean” sources. Also on display will be equipment for air treatment and for waste treatment and recycling. At past events local operators have shown great interest in the Italian technology on offer, so the aim of Italian companies once again attending the fair is to profit from the interest shown in the past and create new opportunities for commercial contact.
For operators in this sector, the market potential of the Arab Emirates is almost limitless: the production of drinking water is a fundamental challenge for a region without a water system and with very low rainfall. The lack of renewable clean water resources necessitates the use of desalination techniques to satisfy domestic requirements. At the same time, the marked economic development in the Arab Emirates in recent times (their G.D.P. is expected to maintain steady growth, even in the coming years), will continue to involve a rising demand for water. Even if it is theoretically possible to get round the problem of the lack of surface water by increasing the use of underground sources, the objective is to maintain the exploitation of the aquifers at existing levels until 2015. There is therefore no alternative to increasing reliance on desalination, and for many years Italian suppliers of these systems and technology have been especially favoured by the Arab nations.
The sector of desalination technology is one in which Italian firms have developed considerable expertise. One such is the Impregilo giant. Thanks to the efforts of its associate company, Fisia Italimpianti (which operates in the environmental services and installations sector) it has received numerous orders in recent years for desalination plants for the Gulf region. In 2007, in particular, the Impregilo group won a contract to build a plant in Dubai able to produce 160 million litres of water a day. There are also smaller businesses, however, such as the Sitindustie company based in Valduggia (Vercelli), which has its own particular field of expertise. This Piedmont-based firm with an annual turnover of about half a billion Euros (eighty per cent of which is in overseas sales), supplies about 75% of the pipes required for the construction of the world’s major desalination plants.
Italy is also active in the field of research relating to the technology of desalination, thanks to Enea (the organization for new technology, energy and the environment). This body has set up projects for the development and engineering of solar-powered desalination systems, which can also be used to produce electrical power.