Find out more about our history in WEB's timeline
Aruba begins desalinating seawater
The desalination history of Aruba started more than a hundred years ago with the production of process water around 1903 at the Gold Mining Company (1899-1916). Even at that early stage, it was obvious that the groundwater and rainwater reserves were insufficient for the physiochemical gold extraction process. The decision was made to desalinate seawater from the nearby Spanish lagoon.
Landswatervoorziening is founded
From 1932 to 1983 drinking water and industrial water were produced using the Multi Effect thermal desalination technology. Since the first desalination activities in 1932 till mid-2007, WEB Aruba produced distilled water, adjusted to approximately: 12 mg/L total hardness 12 mg/L alkalinity, and pH 8.8-9.3 This was achieved by cascading it down over a bed of natural crushed coral. The coral served as an economical source of calcium carbonate (lime stone) which dissolves at a controlled rate, raising the pH above neutral and imparting some calcium (hardness) and carbonate/bicarbonate buffering (alkalinity) to the water before it enters the distribution piping
Introduction of combined power and water production
Five MED evaporators with a capacity of 2,000 cubic meters per day were installed. Waste steam produced by the Power House turbines was used as heating steam for the MED evaporators. During this time the facility also began producing industrial water for the Oil Refinery, then LAGO.
Introduction Integrated Boiler System
MSF desalination technology introduced at WEB
In 1965, the MSF (Multi-stage Flash) desalination technology was introduced at WEB Aruba with the installation of a 3,000 cubic meter per day recirculation brine MSF evaporator from Aqua Chem Inc.
Brief introduction of vertical Multi Stage Controlled Flash Evaporators
From 1978 to 1995 the vertical Multi Stage Controlled Flash Evaporators were used. This revolutionary Dutch-Hungarian design used chlorine gas for the control of marine biofouling in the condensers, intended to increase flash evaporation efficiency and to decrease operational cost. However, it turned out to be a failure. The choice was made to continue installing Aqua Chem MSF evaporators to cope with the quickly increasing water demand due to rapid economic growth in the 1990’s.
WEB imports water due to increased demand
WEB Aruba had experienced problems meeting the increasing demand for potable water. To cope with this phenomenon, drinking water was imported in 1982, 1983 and 1990 from the United States, Venezuela and Dominica.
Installation of first Reverse Osmosis facility & MED evaporators demolished
This year WEB experienced problems meeting the increasing demand for potable water. To cope with this phenomenon, drinking water was imported in 1982, 1983 and 1990 from the United States, Venezuela and Dominica. WEB contracted a company to install a 1,000 m3/day SWRO in 1983 on a Build, Own and Operate (BOO) contract in an effort to minimize import of water. This Plate and Frame SWRO production unit stayed in operation from 1983 to 1985. There were a lot of membrane biofouling problems and this SWRO production unit never operated optimally. After 43 years of excellent results with the MSF technology, the challenging step toward SWRO had been taken in Aruba indicating the beginning of the end of the MSF supremacy era, as is often remarked in the desalination world. In the meantime, the five MED evaporators (installed in 1958) were demolished in 1983 after being kept in production for 25 years.
Production increased with 4 new MSF evaporators (12,000 m3 /day)
During the period 1990 to 1998 WEB was forced to increase production capacity with 4 new MSF evaporators (12,000 cubic meters/day). MSF technology was chosen because of reliability, good operation experience and lack of time to evaluate new technology. Once again, this year WEB experienced problems meeting the increasing demand for potable water. To cope with this phenomenon, drinking water was imported in 1982, 1983 and 1990 from the United States, Venezuela and Dominica
Development Wind Park Vader Piet
The increasing price of heavy fuel oil drove WEB Aruba to study alternative proven and new technologies, to produce drinking water and generate electricity, at a much higher efficiency and to lessen our dependence on fuel oil. In 2004 a start was made with the development of a wind turbine Park at Vader Piet.
Introduction RECIP Engines (RECIP I)
In 2006 the first three “Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines”, the so called RECIPs came into service. This has elevated the reliability of WEB Aruba in power generation with a new and independent powerhouse with 24 Megawatt capacity.
WEB’s Coral House is replaced by closed re-mineralization system
In 2007 WEB’s Coral House was replaced by an automated, pressurized lime stone re-mineralization system. This fixed bed system, was introduced mainly to strengthen the biological integrity of the re-mineralization process, eliminating the free aeration process of the distillate in the Coral House. This reduced the possibility of air-born Legionella Pneumophila bacteria contamination of the drinking water.
75 years of drinking water
Installation of 8000 m3/day SWRO unit – SWRO I
In March 2008 a new 8000 m3/day SWRO production unit went into operation. The Aqua Chem #1, constructed in 1983, was then taken out of production in June 2008 for economic reasons. It had been in service successfully for more than 25 years and was still in excellent operating condition.
Introduction RECIP II (second powerhouse)
In 2008 WEB Aruba expanded the power generation with an additional new 24 megawatt RECIP powerhouse.
Vader Piet Windpark Completed
The construction of the wind turbine park at Vader Piet was completed at the end of 2009.
Introduction RECIP III
In 2012 WEB Aruba commissioned a third RECIP plant with an installed capacity of 45.2 MW, replacing another part of the integrated boiler systems.
80 years WEB Aruba
SWRO II is installed with capacity of 24,000 m3/day
In 2012 the SWRO #2 with a nominal capacity of 24,000 m3/day was put in operation. As a result four of the remaining MSF evaporators were put out of production. Ironically, the SWRO technology, which was rejected back in 1983 with commissioning of MSF technology, effectively pushed MSF technology out of the desalination activities of Aruba. While MSF ended the era of MED technology (the work horses of the first generation of the desalination)
100% SWRO and introduction of Electro De-ionization
This year WEB's remaining MSF evaporators were replaced by mobile SWRO units during a transitional step toward the installation of WEB’s third SWRO unit. After many years of MSF-dominated desalination, WEB has now moved to an exclusively SWRO system. Industrial water will be produced using Electro De-ionization membrane technology. As SWRO plants were being built, it was also time to dismantle the old MSF units. The first Aqua-Chem plant was dismantled in 2008, followed by Boilers 1 and 2 and Boiler 4 in 2012 followed by three Aqua-Chem plants. In 2015, the last two remaining Aqua-Chem plants were decommissioned with the installation of an SWRO mobile plant.
Battery Energy Storage (BESS)
In line with WEB Aruba’s renewable energy strategy (ARES), WEB initiated several projects to store renewable energy. These projects play an important role in maintaining the power grid stable and efficient. The Battery Energy Storage (BESS) was a pilot project to conduct research to collect reliable, site specific data to help determine the different ways in which battery energy storage can be integrated into WEB’s existing renewable energy mix and power grid.
85 Years of Desalination
In 2017 WEB Aruba commemorated 85 years of water desalination on Aruba. Take a look at memories shared of WEB and/or water desalination in Aruba since 1932 in Mi Tesoro, our digital museum: View digital museum.
The Flywheel project is another project to help maintain the power grid stable and efficient. It consists of 20 Flywheels with an energy storage capacity of 5 MW during 12 minutes.
Solar Photovoltaic System Completed
In 2018 WEB commissioned its Sunrise Solar Park at Lago Heights; a large scale solar PV park, consisting of a large scale solar ground mounted PV system, with an installed capacity of 7.5MW.
Introduction of WEB Aruba’s Geographic Information System
GIS is an automated system that registers all objects and infrastructure above or below land, linked with data. For the introduction old maps with information of WEB Aruba’s distribution network had to be digitalized and implemented in a geographic information data model. A Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award was awarded to WEB by the international Esri company.
New 12 inch Pipeline
As demand was growing and to have extra and steady supply to the hotel area, a new 12 inch pipeline (“ringleiding”) of approximately 8 KM was laid along the Watty Vos Boulevard.
After achieving the "Zero-MSF" milestone by moving on to 100% SWRO plants and as the overhead pipelines and smoke stacks were not in use anymore, they were dismantled in 2020. This way space was made for future plants, amongst others a third SWRO plant, planned for construction due to ongoing developments and projected growth in Aruba.
Intelligent Generation Management System (IGMS)
The IGMS maintains the power supply to ELMAR stable and facilitates faster action during interruptions or imbalance in the power demand. IGMS regulates the frequency of all equipment online and absorbs fluctuations between energy production and demand.
Additional distribution pipeline
An additional distribution pipeline was created from the Jaburibari water tank to replace the pump supplied area for an area supplied by gravity water. This new 8 inch pipeline is approximately 3 KM.
Introduction RECIP IV
In June 2022 WEB Aruba commissioned a fourth RECIP plant, replacing all integrated boiler systems. The RECIP IV plant consists of 6 RECIP engines with a joined installed capacity of 102 MW. With the take-over of this fourth RECIP plant, 64 years of thermal energy production comes to an end. WEB Aruba now produces energy with RECIP engines that will be able to run both on Heavy Fuel Oil and on Natural Gas in the future. With the commissioning of RECIP IV, WEB Aruba takes a step closer to reaching its objective to lower its energy production with fossil fuels to 50% and production with renewable energy to 50%. This contributes to WEB Aruba’s vision of a cleaner, greener and HFO free production.
WEB Aruba celebrates 90 years