In a new project facilitated by the Trade Council, Danish companies are to retrofit a wastewater utility outside Chicago with Danish technologies. If the project establish foothold in the U.S., this could mean orders worth billions to Denmark in the future.
In this new project Danish companies will retrofit the Glenbard Wastewater Authority with Danish technology. Behind the project is the Water Technology Alliance (WTA) – a collaboration between leading Danish water technology manufacturers, Aarhus Vand and the Trade Council.
The project has also gained 10 million DKK in support from the MUDP.
“This project is truly a unique opportunity to show the American market how it is possible to integrate Danish technology in an American wastewater facility,” said the Consul General Jakob Andersen, who is in charge of the Trade Council’s effort to support Danish export of technologies to the U.S. within energy and environment.
The retrofitting of the wastewater utility is expected to be finished in 2019, and the project is the first of its kind in this magnitude where Danish solutions are developed and adjusted to an American plant. In the future, the retrofitting could have a great impact on Danish export of water technologies, according to Jakob Andersen.
“This is the icing on the cake after four years of intensive export promotion. There is a lot to gain, if this project gets established in the US. Specifically, it could mean orders worth billions for Danish companies,” he said.
The Danish companies participating in the project is AVK, Danfoss, DHI, Grundfos, Landia, LINAK, Nissen Energiteknik og Stjernholm. The project is being led by DHI.
Regulations and Outdated Technology
Many American wastewater treatment plants are major consumers of energy and the aim of this project is to achieve more energy neutrality and a better effluent quality.
“In addition, the purpose of this project is to develop, adjust and demonstrate Danish wastewater technology in the U.S.,” said Jacob Vind, director of the Water Technology Alliance (WTA), who among others is behind the project.
“A lot of American wastewater utilities are operated with outdated technology, and they do not yet clean the water for nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus like we do in Denmark,” he said.
Several places in the U.S. are looking towards a tightening of the emission requirements on nitrogen and phosphorus in particular. Therefore, a lot of American wastewater treatment plants are to face new challenges.
“The American wastewater utilities must adapt to the new regulations, and that can turn out expensive, if they do not look into energy-neutral solutions. For Denmark this means a unique export opportunity, as we are technologically more advanced in this area,” said Jacob Vind.
According to the Consul General, Jakob Andersen, it is also about gradually influencing the American mentality.
“It is important for us to show that in Denmark we see wastewater treatment plants as a resource and not a burden,” he said.
In collaboration with Aarhus Vand the WTA is working on building and strengthening networks within the water and wastewater industry in the U.S.
“We work from a three point perspective. First, our employee form Aarhus Vand visits the American wastewater utility to determine what is needed and where we can help. Then we facilitate workshops where Danish companies present their solutions to the specific utility. Finally we invite the American company to Denmark to show them in person how this can be done,” said Jacob Vind, director of WTA.
According to Jakob Andersen it is significantly more expensive to retrofit an older wastewater treatment plant in the U.S. than in Denmark.
“The reason for the higher prices is that American projects often have too many advisors on board and too many links in the supply chain. Our goal is to offer a complete solution with both Danish suppliers and American advisors,” he said.
New Financial Model
This project has been established through close collaboration between WTA and Aarhus Vand. Both the execution and the finance make the project unique.
“This retrofitting is unique because we unify technical solutions from different Danish companies offered in community through the WTA,” said Jacob Vind.
“Beside the WTA-collaboration the financial model is also quite special. In this particular model, the utility owner does not need to provide “investment capital”. Through performance guarantees the model ensures that both the plant owner and the U.S. investors will get a share of the savings that can be achieved by using Danish water technology solutions,” he said.
The combination of the technical and financial solution is expected to have great potential in the U.S.