Alpha Utilities is one of the companies driving essential desalination and wastewater processes in the Middle East.
C&C Alpha Group founder Bhanu Choudhrie launched the company in 2005 to develop utility projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and beyond.
As one of Alpha Utilities’ directors, Bhanu Choudhrie helps steer the company’s long-term growth, ensuring high-quality wastewater management to the firm’s varied client base.
The Middle East is one of the world’s most arid regions and as population pressures increase, so does the demand for freshwater resources. Consequently, Middle Eastern countries rely on non-conventional approaches to water production, such as desalination and wastewater reuse.
Water scarcity in the Middle East has led many countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to adopt desalination as a main source of safe water. Bhanu Choudhrie’s C&C Alpha Group identified this growing demand for freshwater supplies and created Alpha Utilities to address this need.
Headquartered in the UAE, Alpha Utilities is the foremost small-scale desalination technology company in the region. Its reverse osmosis desalination plant produces 1.5 million gallons of water each day. The plant provides essential water products for drinking and industrial use, including demineralized and demineralized water.
In 2017, Alpha Utilities won a major contract from the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority to build a second reverse osmosis desalination plant in the UAE. This plant will generate 2.2 million gallons of water each day, increasing the company’s total freshwater output to 3.7 million gallons daily.
Besides providing a range of water products, Alpha Utilities designs, builds, and operates desalination plants of various sizes. The company’s team of skilled engineers also develops and maintains wastewater treatment plants.
Water scarcity is a major problem worldwide, but especially in the Middle East. Many Middle Eastern countries depend on desalination plants, which remove salt from seawater to produce plentiful fresh water.
Alpha Utilities helps the UAE meet its need for fresh water through reverse osmosis desalination technology. Reverse osmosis is the most commonly used and most energy-efficient desalination process.
However, reclaimed water may provide an even more cost-effective solution to the water scarcity problem. Advancements in wastewater treatment technologies and reuse have made it increasingly possible to create high-quality wastewater products. Following appropriate treatment, these products could prove particularly useful in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture is the main source of water consumption in most Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries. On average, 86% of water usage goes to crop production. Meanwhile, household and industrial activities account for 8% and 6% of water consumption, respectively.
The annual volume of untreated wastewater discharged in MENA countries remains high. The key challenges encountered in the treatment and reuse of wastewater in these countries include:
Inefficient irrigation and water management systems that diminish the potential for water reuse. These management schemes often neglect the possibility of using reclaimed water as a resource for irrigation; environmental conservation; and other industrial, municipal, or recreational uses.
Insufficient data regarding the status of wastewater reuse and disposal in various forms. In addition, there is often inadequate data on associated environmental and health impacts. Even when information is accessible, the use of different criteria leads to significant variations in wastewater assessment.
Incomplete economic analysis of wastewater treatment and reuse options. Analyses primarily focus on financial feasibility and neglect other relevant factors. Such factors include intended final reuse and transport options for the treated effluent.
The perceived high cost associated with establishing wastewater collection networks and treatment plants. Costs for wastewater treatment facilities differ across locations based on factors like the quality of wastewater collected and the anticipated quality of the treated wastewater.
The preference for fresh water rather than wastewater. This preference often results from a lack of government commitment to endorse wastewater treatment programmes. This lack of commitment can lead to a public misunderstanding about the environmental advantages of wastewater treatment and the reuse of reclaimed water. Users may also harbour scepticism about the quality of reclaimed water.
The discrepancy between water pricing and water scarcity, especially in the agricultural sector. Water pricing should take the value of water scarcity into account.
The lack of mechanisms for recovering costs associated with wastewater treatment and reuse. This factor, along with a lack of commitment to support wastewater treatment programmes, has led to low demand for cost-based reclaimed water.
The GCC region has taken great strides in tackling wastewater treatment and investing in water reuse. GCC countries, including the UAE, have set ambitious targets through the GCC Unified Water Strategy. These targets include:
Increasing the use of reclaimed and treated sewage waste to 90% by 2035.
Increasing wastewater collection networks to 60% by 2030.
Investing a combined $5.21 billion annually into wastewater infrastructure development.
GCC countries have established initiatives to retrofit existing wastewater systems and create major new capacity for wastewater treatment and collection networks.
As a result of these enhancements, the region can address critical wastewater management issues and develop alternative water sources. These alternative water sources are essential if GCC countries are to meet their growing populations’ water demand.
Alpha Utilities remains dedicated to supporting the UAE and the broader GCC region in advancing wastewater management solutions. The company’s innovative water and wastewater systems continue to provide benefits to corporate and residential clients across the Middle East.
Bhanu Choudhrie is a serial entrepreneur and experienced investor and has held leadership roles at several international organisations, including the US publicly traded Atlantic Coast Financial Corporation prior to its acquisition by Ameris Bancorp.
Bhanu Choudhrie is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management programme. He also studied International Business and Marketing at Boston University.
In 2002, Choudhrie founded C&C Alpha Group. The private equity firm incubates and develops businesses in banking, hospitality, real estate, utilities, and other sectors. C&C Alpha Group focuses on opportunities that create long-term stakeholder value and provide solutions that address gaps in emerging markets.
Previous C&C Alpha Group successes include the sale of Air Deccan and Alpha Hospitals. Kingfisher bought Air Deccan, India’s first low-cost airline, in 2007. (The Indian National Stock Exchange listed the airline with a market cap of $500 million.) In 2015, Cygnet Health Care acquired Alpha Hospitals for £95 million.
Choudhrie previously sat on the Executive and Risk Committees of Customers Bank in Philadelphia. Customers Bank received widespread acclaim for its BankMobile division, which is the largest and fastest-growing mobile-first bank in the U.S.
Learn more about Bhanu Choudhrie.