IDE Technologies

Implementation of build-operate-transfer schemes: obstacles & solutions

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The past 15 years have shown increasing interest in large-scale desalination worldwide, where seawater desalination has been proven a reliable and feasible source of potable and industrial water, alleviating increasing consumer needs, pressures and demands.

Many of the large-scale seawater desalination facilities built in the past years, or presently under construction, are delivered under a Public-Private-Partnership framework, and most of these projects are implemented by the adoption of a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) business structure.

The reason for the preference of municipalities, public utilities for the BOT structure relies mainly on the benefits associated with its cost-effectiveness, affordability and efficiency, as well as the clear transfer of risks from public to private sectors.

Successful large-scale BOT seawater desalination projects can be pinpointed in different business sectors and geographical (and cultural) areas, but all show common features that paved the way for their successful development and implementation.

Unfortunately, alongside the successful examples of large-scale BOT schemes implemented so far, plenty of initiatives and project offerings never materialized, being aborted at different stages of development. This bears the heavy cost of considerable effort, innumerable man-hours and significant resources, while ultimately not providing the requested service to the party in need of the water.

This paper focuses on these cases, addressing the main causes of the failure of suggested/initiated BOT scheme offerings and what prevented their successful implementation. The paper analyses the main constraints and obstacles characterizing these setbacks, and presents different solutions and alternatives to by-pass and/or overcome these obstacles that, if adopted, could enhance the possibilities of successful implementation of the projects.

In particular, the paper will focus on the obstacles to the execution and the implementation of a BOT scheme in developing countries, where a reliable water supply is one of the major keys for economic and social development.

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