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Solar Water Solutions (SWS) can turn seawater, or any dirty water into drinking water with solar power. No more diesel-powered purification plants, no more transporting of water, no more plastic bottles. Water is now affordable, safe, and sustainable.
Heikki Pohjola, a Finnish engineer, invented the solution already in 2014. After seeing the results of his laboratory tests, his son Antti Pohjola realized the importance of the innovation.
Antti had made a 20-year career in finance, investing in emerging markets, and thus understood how affordable clean water could revolutionize local economies all over the world.
Today, Antti is the CEO of Solar Water Solutions. All four Pohjola siblings work for the family enterprise, with five top experts from various fields.
Building water infrastructure in remote places is very expensive.
Once a water purification plant is ready, it needs a lot of electricity. In remote locations such as islands, deserts, and rural areas, the most common source of energy is diesel generators. They have high fuel costs, high CO2 emissions, and transporting diesel is burdensome, too. If you don’t make your water, you need to transport it, which is even more expensive than making water and has an even larger carbon footprint. Water is heavy, and we all need a lot of it – for drinking, for washing, and irrigation.
Clean water is needed now more than ever because over 4 billion people lack access to safe water services, and we fight COVID-19 by washing hands.
To make things worse, boreholes all over the world are getting increasingly saline or contaminated with bacteria, chemicals, viruses, and other impurities. In the future, clean water will get even more scarce due to population growth, climate change, and natural disasters.
Everybody needs clean water, both the rich and the poor.
Think of an exclusive eco-resort or a cruise ship company that produces water with diesel generators. Doesn’t sound right, does it? Climate awareness increases the demand for sustainable solutions everywhere – from camps and gated communities to farms and factories.
In developing countries, 4 500 children die every day because of water-related issues. Millions of women spend several hours every day carrying water to their families. The cost of water can carve up to 70 % of household income.
Affordable clean water can save lives, contribute to gender equality, release time for productive tasks and studies, and enable new business models.
SWS has the potential to revolutionize local economies both in the developing world and in the water-thirsty regions globally. That is our mission.
The most common and efficient way to purify water is reverse osmosis. The process needs constant pressure, which requires constant electric power. The problem with solar energy has been, that its nature is to be variable.
SWS’s patented technology creates constant pressure even when the weather gets cloudy. That’s why only Solar Water Solutions can make water with solar energy without batteries. SWS’s technology is also mechanical, which makes it robust and saves the cost of computer systems. Batteries and complex computer systems make the initial investment in other solar-powered reverse osmosis systems 2–3 times higher.
Zero battery investments and zero running costs result in the lowest life-cycle costs.
Clean drinking water can be produced for under 1 euro per 1000 liters even on a very remote island in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean, or South East Asia.
The most common sources in such locations are seawater and contaminated boreholes, but any lake, river, or well will do. The process removes all salt, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals and leaves a neutral taste.
The employee-entrepreneurs of the company are motivated by both the mission of the company and financial benefits.
Solar Water ATM, Kenya – Completed
SWS's plants can be completed with Solar Water ATMs, which creates a business opportunity for infrastructure investors and franchise entrepreneurs. Instead of paying for bottled water, people in Kenya are buying water from Solar Water ATMs using mobile payments. We have completed projects in two communities, yet the country's coastal and rural areas need 7 000 similar plants by 2025.
University Campus, Namibia – Completed
The University of Namibia has an SWS plant that makes 25 000 liters of clean water every day from the Atlantic Ocean. The campus is situated on the shore, which provides an infinite, yet a saline source of water to be purified.
Government Farm, Abu Dhabi – Completed
The Ministry of Food of Abu Dhabi has its proprietary food farm. The farm has an SWS plant that provides clean water for irrigation. A high saline borehole serves as the source of water.
Private Villas, Baltic Sea – Completed
The Baltic Sea, surrounded by Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the Baltic countries, has a unique water type called brackish water. It is less saline than ocean water, yet it needs to be purified. The shores and the islands are dotted with private villas that need clean water. SWS has completed over 80 projects in the area.
Riverside Community, Vietnam – Completed
Many highly populated communities in emerging markets lack municipal water infrastructure and grid connections. SWS’s stand-alone decentralized system produces affordable clean water from a polluted river.
Government Preparedness, Sweden – Under Construction
The Swedish government has started to pay increasing attention to water readiness and self-sufficiency in potential crises. Solar Water Solution will deliver a water purification system for field use to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.
Eco Hotel, Bali – Under Construction
The tourism industry is under increasing pressure to make recreational travel more sustainable. SWS’s first order from the hotel sector is a solar-powered water purification plant by an eco-resort in Bali. Once installed, the resort will be self-sufficient and carbon neutral when it comes to drinking water. The need for plastic water bottles will also come to an end.
Solar Water Solutions is in the business of developing and manufacturing water desalination systems that run on solar power. The business model varies slightly depending on the sales channel.
In the Distributor Channel, SWS provides the water purification solution, and the local distribution partner is responsible for all additional infrastructure (eg. solar panels, water intake, tanks, and potential civil works), which is also a business opportunity for them. For the end-user, the distribution partner offers turn-key solutions, service and maintenance, and finance options.
These large water treatment specialists with their large-scale clientele enable fast scale-up. They lift marketing, customer service, and maintenance responsibilities from SWS. Most importantly, they have access to local clients and financing models. In Distributor Channel, target end-customers are hotels and resorts, cruise ship companies, housing projects, camps, construction sites, companies (mining, energy, fishing, agriculture) municipalities, marinas, farms, and local communities.
Based on received quotations during 4Q2019 and the beginning of 2020, the sales potential is over 4 million € only in Indonesia, the Philippines, the Caribbean, and Latin America. By the end of the year 2022, the goal is to deliver systems worth over 8 million €.
In the Investor Channel, Infrastructure investors buy large quantities of plants and sell water to the local population. Infrastructure investor and local distribution partner together lift customer service and maintenance responsibilities from SWS.
For the Investor Channel, SWS has a specific product called Solar Water ATM that enables easy sales and billing of water. It also has remote monitoring features and provides investors with valuable data.
In Investor Channel, target end-customers are infrastructure funds, impact funds, local water vendors, municipalities, NGOs, refugee camps, schools, and large companies' CSR projects.
SWS has delivered two Solar Water ATM solutions to NGO's in Kenya. SWS has estimated that in Kenya alone, there is a need for 7 000 similar sites, and the goal for SWS is 200 sites worth 16 M€ by 2023. These sites will serve over 400 000 people.
The company builds all its products from high-quality components in its own factory in Espoo, Finland.
The capacity of SWS units ranges from 50 liters to 10 000 liters per hour. The smallest units have been sold to private properties, yet the focus is now on selling and delivering large commercial plants that can consist of several large units.
SWS delivers the large units in freight containers that also serve in the construction of the final plant. Everything is designed to withstand extreme weather and rough use.
Solar Water Solutions has patents in all strategic and potential future geographical areas, including the US, EU, China, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and many others.
Three patent families ensure the freedom to operate and helps to build distribution partnerships with leading water treatment specialists in the target markets. The patent families are related to the one-of-a-kind mechanical adaptive valve system technology ANVS™. It automatically maintains the pressure constant, even when the feed flow to the reverse osmosis membranes is fluctuating due to the variable power obtained from the solar PV panels.
The strong and comprehensive international patent portfolio enables Solar Water Solutions to scale-up internationally and keep its competitive edge.
In the future, SWS can apply the same technology to wind and wave power.
Reverse osmosis is the most effective and popular way of water purification. SWS’s patented solution is the first and only fully solar-powered system.
Competing reverse osmosis technologies utilize grid power, diesel generators, sophisticated computer systems, or batteries. In remote locations, where grid power is not available, polluting diesel generators and expensive batteries have been the only energy options.
SWS has barely started sales efforts. Yet, it has already sold 120 units on four continents. Municipalities, NGOs, hotels, private villas, and small industries seek cost-effective and sustainable options to produce their water locally in remote locations.
In Kenya, SWS has signed a memorandum of understanding with a municipality to deliver 200 sites by 2023. The potential value of the project is worth 16 M€. These sites will serve over 400 000 people. The company aims to start the project in 3Q2020 financed by infrastructure funds.
The need for safe drinking water is global. Kenya's coastal and rural areas alone need 7,000 RO desalination plants in 2019–2025, with a total value of 560 m€. Based on the situation in Kenya, SWS has estimated that Neighboring countries have similar challenges worth 1.5 bn€. On other continents, in India, for example, the potential is even more significant.
The total of off-grid zero-emissions desalination market will reach $ 35 bn by 2028, starting from very low in 2018. Solar Water Solutions targets to tap a 3 percent market share of this market by 2028 and have revenue of over 100 M€ by 2025.
The strength of the SWS team stems from its strong business acumen. The CEO and the COO have made prolific careers in finance and marketing. They thrive on making a positive impact by commercializing a technology that their father invented. The innovation and all needed technologies are tried and tested, yet the innovator himself supports the team as the CTO.
Heikki, M.Sc. (Tech.) is the original inventor of the technology, and he is still in charge of the company’s patents and technology. His focus has been on renewable energy for the past 25 years, and he has done research and technology development in close co-operation with the professors at the Aalto University, Department of Energy Technology. He has several patents in the fields of water desalination and bioenergy.
Antti is responsible for overall management activities, leads the distributions partner search and finance, with over 18 years of experience in senior roles in the financial industry. He has an M.Sc. (Econ.) degree from the Helsinki School of Economics and also holds a CEFA degree. Before founding SWS, he worked in top executive roles in the financial industry, investing in global emerging markets. Among other positions, Antti was Director of Emerging Markets, Fund Manager, and Senior Partner at FIM Bank.
Anna, a Bachelor of Arts from Helsinki University, is responsible for the company’s daily management operations, marketing, customer service, and communications. Previously Anna worked more than 11 years for Otavamedia Ltd, a leading media company. As an Executive Producer, she was revolutionizing the traditional publishing business towards digital and renewing esteemed brands in a changing market. Today, Anna strives to turn conventional water purification business into a new era. She is a goal-oriented manager with experience of leading projects aimed at international audiences and supervising multidisciplinary teams.
Cara, Ph.D., is responsible for building global partnerships and strengthening sales channels in target markets. She is a Stanford and EPFL graduate and has 19 years of experience working in the water sector for leading consulting firms such as Stantec and CH2M and UNDP in Africa. Cara is also an advisor to the Green Climate Fund.
Julius is responsible for international sales channels operations management, service & maintenance processes, and technical support. Julius is the primary contact for international distribution partners and is in charge of partner training programs. He has a B.Sc. (Finance) degree from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. He is based in SWS’s test center in Masdar Eco-City, Abu Dhabi.
Toni is responsible for the production and quality processes, and component supply management. He and plays a significant role in product development together with the CTO, and is head of system installations. He has an M.Sc. (Econ.) degree from the University of Vaasa and a degree from Bristow Helicopter Academy in Florida, USA.
Tommi is responsible for electrical and IoT works. He is specialized in Sustainable Electrical Engineering. Tommi has a big role in developing and maintaining the company's environmental standards. Before SWS, he worked for Fortum Power, for the City of Espoo and an NGO in Swaziland. Tommi has a BEng degree from Turku University of Applied Sciences.
Henry, MSc, is responsible for developing sales and partnerships in Indonesia and South East Asia region. He is experienced in international market development for renewable energy companies
Antti, eMBA and BSc (Automation Technology) is heading business development in the Philippines area. He has served as CCO for Keypro Oy, establishing channel partner network within water, telecom and energy in the Asian market. Before he served for Nokia Technology Platforms, R&D over 15 years as a Head of Technical Sales.
Boris has 20 years of experience working as an investment banker investing in emerging markets. He has worked for over 15 years in executive positions in global investment banks and as a Managing Director at the UBS bank.
Korkia as an institutional investor and a minority shareholder in Solar Water Solutions, has an observer position in the company’s board of directors. Korkia is a Finnish company specialized in developing and funding sustainable companies. Korkia has invested in Solar Water Solutions.
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