Soren Kvorning: More must be done for Water Sector

President of Danfoss Asia Pacific Region Soren Kvorning speaking at the Energy Efficiency Summit hosted by Danfoss

According to a report done by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, almost 50 per cent of the Southeast Asian (SEA) population will be living in cities, and governments across SEA are under immense pressure to meet the demands of surging populations and find a balance between keeping cities liveable yet sustainable.

With all our advancements in technology, how do our cities become “climate-smart”? Water & Wastewater Asia sits down with Soren Kvorning, President of Danfoss Asia Pacific Region, to find out more about current efforts to encourage sustainability in the water sector, and what more can be done.

Water & Wastewater Asia (WWA): What part do you think the water and wastewater industry has to play in the drive to develop more “climate-smart” cities?

Soren Kvorning (SK): When we move people into cities, the supply chain is getting more and more critical, and the water supply is a big part of this food supply chain. So, water, food, fossil fuels, these resources are under pressure. Water is a key part of the infrastructure, and we have areas today where we don’t have access to clean water for everybody. The infrastructure cannot stand alone – it requires the water supply and wastewater handling as well. When you talk about wastewater, it’s another element of the infrastructure where you also need sustainability in the way you treat water, in the before and after. We also need to accelerate the way we are increasing our access to water by desalination plants, as an example, or clean the sewage water again, and that’s part of what we’re doing in Singapore so the wastewater plants for the future are also fuelling the potable water. 

WWA: In sustainable energy and development, how big a role does water and wastewater play?

SK: I believe approximately four to five per cent of the overall energy consumption comes from the water industry. Here the water sector plays a role in educating, and they play a role in enabling the technologies available already, to reduce the energy consumption and pump water smarter. We can move water smarter from one place to another, and save 15-25 per cent of the energy consumed.

At the same time, when you have a wastewater plant, you have inertia in the water, in the CO tanks where the biological treatment is happening. And that inertia can be reused to generate energy, and as such you can at the same time convert it so it becomes energy neutral, or even energy producing for the wastewater handling. 

WWA: What are some of the challenges that the industry will encounter in improving sustainability?

SK: It depends on where we are. If we take Singapore as an example, we’re pretty far along with our water supply and we’re working on being independent, but we still have challenges or requirements that have been putting pressure on Singapore’s development. We have pretty well-developed water supply systems, but we still have leakages, so the water sector also plays a role in enabling and identifying the technology to stop these leakages. Again, it’s looking at the whole system. 

If we’re not demanding the pressure control in our system, the leakage and volume leaked will be higher. To reduce pending demand, we will reduce the leakages as well. At the same time, we need to detect the leakages so we save water, and I think that’s the biggest portion of making it sustainable.

WWA: What about the water and wastewater industry in the Asian region? Is the region developing fast enough?

SK: When it comes to energy saving or our climate change, which includes challenges and limitations on the water supply, time is never enough, and I honestly believe that we need more speed in this. We have ambitions, we have plans, but we need the implementation ready to go. We have a growing middle class that will require and demand more water, and they will move to places where the water is available and that will put pressure on these areas.

So, it’s not about solving it in a few places, we need to lift the overall infrastructure of our water. And to do that it also requires that we look at the waste, at the sewage, the other part of the equation is the wastewater treatment, therefore we all play a role regardless of whether we are in a developed area or not, to make sure all of us are lifting it together. We need the acceleration and to take the low hanging fruits today instead of waiting. The standard we developed five years back is no longer the standard we should be having now.

WWA: What do you think the potential of the region is?

SK: I don’t think we know the limit – what we want to achieve is not necessarily what we can achieve. I think at this point of time we don’t know what we can actually achieve. We know what we want to achieve, and if we make it or not is a question of our actions. 

And I still see that with the technologies available today we could see more clean water, like cleaning wastewater or seawater to make it drinkable and potable for all. So potentially we could open up some of the initiatives like sustainable energy for all. What about sustainable water for all? I’d recommend that we create a sustainable water initiative that could potentially be regional or global. It requires the partnership between the public and private sectors, supported by institutions.

And that’s why I like the quote I mentioned from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, he said something about “if the ambition is not fulfilled, don’t wait. React, do it, act – be creative and make the change.” 

WWA: Tell us more about how Danfoss is helping the water industry in saving water.

SK: Danfoss has never been more relevant than what we currently are, and there are certain trends in the world like urbanisation and an increasing need for water which are clearly making us even more relevant. Our technologies are innovated to support the sustainability of the water sector. We also have individual components like high-pressure pumps that generate the pressure needed to push the water through the reverse osmosis filter. We have pumps that are installed in island resorts, to generate potable water. 

We also have various technologies today where you can control and predict when there is a low season in water needs or demands, and then you can control the pumping of the water-based on that. We can increase the uptime of the pumps and systems, where we are synchronising and balancing the pumps; instead of one pump we have two, and we control the ups and downs so we can take one out for repair, while we are continuously running with the other one.

We previously set an ambitious target of doubling our energy productivity by 2030, but we have reached 77 per cent and expect to make the target by 2020. Now we have a new ambition of doubling this target one more time over the next 10 years. We need to have these ambitions, and people and societies to remind (us) to think bolder, and really go for it.