Rising Demand for Desalination

There is a growing need for desalinated water from the general public, which has a greater understanding of water issues and often demands high quality potable water. Several industries require ultra pure water produced from desalination, and these industries are growing e.g. pharmaceutical and semi-conductors, and equipment can now measure contaminants at very low concentrations. This is especially pertinent as increasing industrialisation has resulted in higher incidents of water contamination in some parts of the world.

Desalination is often associated with the MENA countries, which are the most arid in the world and do constitute the largest market for desalination. The Gulf area will continue to be the largest market, with its rapidly growing populations, depleted ground water resources and the need for replacement capacity for old plant built thirty to fourty years ago.

Water stress is increasing, in some countries rapidly, and there is growing interest in desalination. The use of desalination is growing in the Mediterranean countries, notably in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Spain. These countries will experience the highest growth, and will double or triple in the next few years. Although the market has stalled somewhat in Algeria and Spain, along with Australia, in the past year as construction programmes have ended, and the political situation in Morocco and Tunisia is not completely stable.

The US is mainly a brackish water market, with plant located in coastal areas, desalting river water. However there will be more large-scale seawater desalting plants built, most likely in California, Texas and Florida. The municipal market in the US is expected to grow, with more communities being favourable to desalination compared to several years ago despite strong environmental opposition.

China and India both experience acute water shortages and have the two largest populations in the world, together with rapid industrialisation requiring huge water consumption. Both are constructing desalination plants and are expected to be the main drivers of growth in new desalination capacity.