Urbanisation, climate change and a drop in the cost of energy are set to spur a rebirth of the flagging desalination market. A new market report by Global Water Intelligence (GWI) has published providing a guide for businesses in the industry to the best opportunities in this market.
By 2050, 4.8 billion people around the world will be impacted by water stress and desalination will be an everyday fact of life for the majority of them. The desalination market has experienced extremely rapid growth in the last decade as more countries look to use marginal water resources such as seawater and brackish water to meet their needs, and is expected to continue on an upward trend for at least the next decade.
“It has never been more important for businesses to have a robust strategy for capitalising on emerging desalination activity and, although the desalination market has not yet returned to its peak, there are still pockets of growth and a demand for technologies that can meet the primary challenges faced in those regions. This report makes use of DesalData and GWI’s extensive network of contributors to identify trends,” Christopher Gasson, publisher, commented.
GWI’s Desalination Markets report has been the industry handbook for businesses working within the desalination industry since 2007. Desalination Markets 2016 includes 17 profiles for the regions including analysis of the desalination market, key players, trends and market size forecasts. It also includes an in-depth analysis of the core and emerging technologies and their place in the market.
In the period 2004–2014, newly contracted units provided an additional 50.0 million m³/d to the global desalination capacity. The rapid growth and subsequent contraction of the desalination market has created a fiercely competitive market, with some tenders attracting more than a dozen bidders.
The report shows an expectation of steady demand for seawater desalination in the core markets of Middle East and North Africa and less established markets such as India and China. The US will be another important market due to continued pressure from climatic events such as persistent drought in California.
The largest organisations have found growth in industrial markets – the oil and gas sector in particular – to compensate for the tough conditions in the municipal desalination market. Others specialise in owning and operating the plants that they build, ensuring an ongoing revenue stream.
According to the report, the largest contribution to the global desalination capacity was from reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants. Improvements in the technology and the cost reduction of RO facilities have lead them to far surpass thermal multi-effect distillation (MED) and multi-stage flash (MSF) technologies. Two particular areas of interest are dissolved air flotation (DAF) and micro-ultrafiltration (MF/UF).
The thermal desalination sector has been particularly tightly fought, with Doosan squeezing Fisia and Veolia Sidem division. Price competition and reduced order volumes have had an impact on the equipment supply sector, although membrane suppliers – who benefit from replacement sales into the installed base – continue to thrive.
Significant expansion is expected in the use of brine concentration and volume reduction technologies for industrial usage. Meanwhile, demand for brackish water desalination systems will grow steadily but on a smaller scale with US remaining the most important market.
Going forward the focus of technological development is likely to be in other areas of the desalination process, such as pretreatment, environmentally friendly intakes, the use of renewable energy, and monitoring and control systems.