Desalination Plants to Double by 2020

Posted: Wednesday 25th November 2015

Enormous growth opportunities in this market that will reach revenues of $19 billion by 2019, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Increasing global water scarcity owing to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation has opened up vast avenues for growth in the desalination market. As drought situations intensify, desalination will evolve into a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix. Developing cost-effective and sustainable solutions will enable technology providers to capitalise on this immense potential.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of Global Desalination Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $11.66 billion in 2015 and estimates this to reach $19.08 billion in 2019. More than 17,000 desalination plants are in operation in 150 countries worldwide, a capacity that is expected to double by 2020.

“Environmentally-conscious countries in Europe and the Americas are hesitant to practice desalination owing to its harsh effects on sea water,” noted Frost & Sullivan Environment and Building Technologies Independent Consultant Vandhana Ravi. “Eco-friendly desalination systems that do not use chemicals will be well-received among municipalities in these regions.”

While a number of desalination projects are under construction in the United States, India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, adoption is slow in other drought-struck portions of the globe. The lack of regulatory support in several regions limits uptake.

Moreover, the desalination process is highly expensive and is prone to contamination. Thermal desalination technology uses large amounts of energy and releases significant volumes of highly salty liquid brine back into water bodies, which massively impacts the environment. Brine disposal will remain a prime challenge until a technology upgrade puts this issue to rest.

“Carbon nanotubes, radial deionisation and biomimetic aquaporin membranes are some of the new approaches that will push desalination to become an indispensable element in water management,” noted Ravi. “Innovations such as ceramic and polymeric membranes targeted at reducing operating costs will pave the way for the acceptance of desalination as a practical solution to tackle the shortfall in fresh water.”

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