Posted: Thursday 28th November 2013

New Data from International Desalination Association and Global Water Intelligence Also Reveals Greater Demand from Industry as Water Risk Starts to Bite.

The amount of new desalination capacity expected to come on line during 2013 is 50% more than last year’s total, according to new data from the International Desalination Association and GWI DesalData. Desalination plants with a total capacity of 6 million cubic meters per day (m3/d) are expected to come on line during 2013, compared with 4 million m3/d in 2012.

The new capacity could produce the same amount of freshwater as falls on London in 28 months or 19 months of rain on New York City. It takes the total capacity of all 17,277 commissioned desalination plants in the world to 80.9 million m3/d, which is nearly 32 years of rain for London or just over 21 years of rain in New York.

While this year’s growth is somewhat lower than 2010, when 6.5 million m3/d of new capacity was completed, the data shows that demand for desalination continues to grow. An increasing proportion of that growth is coming from the industrial sector. Since 2010, 45% of new desalination plants have been ordered by industrial users such as power stations and refineries, while in the previous four years, only 27% of new capacity was ordered by industrial water users.

Industrial applications for desalination grew to 7.6 million m3/d for 2010-2013 compared with 5.9 million m3/d for 2006-2009. Of the 7.6 million m3/d, the power industry accounted for 16%; oil & gas, 12% (up from 7% from 2006-2009); mining & metals, 11%; refining & chemicals, 11%; electronics, 5%; and food & beverage, 3%. Other industrial applications accounted for the remaining 40%.

Christopher Gasson, Publisher of GWI DesalData said: “You could see this as the water – energy nexus in action. The energy industry needs water, both in refining and power generation as well as upstream. The water industry also needs energy, and the two seem to be coming together in increased demand for desalination. Fortunately the desalination industry has been improving its energy efficiency all along. Over the past decade, we have seen a 30% improvement in the energy efficiency of the best performing plants, and I think we will see a similar improvement over the next decade,” he added.

"Ongoing enhancements in energy efficiency continue to be a key focus for the desalination industry. While we have made significant improvements in the past couple of decades, we continue to seek additional ways to reduce energy requirements through development of new technologies, implementation of best practices and/or retrofits in existing plants, increased use of hybrid technologies, and efforts to harness the potential of renewable energy to power desalination plants,” said Patricia A. Burke, IDA Secretary General.

Seawater desalination continues to represents the largest percentage of online global capacity at 59%, followed by brackish water at 22%, river water at 9%, and wastewater and pure water at 5% each?

The top 10 seawater desalination countries by online capacity are:


Commissioned seawater desalination capacity m3/d

Saudi Arabia




















The markets which are expected to see the fastest growth in desalination over the next five years are: South Africa, Jordan, Mexico, Libya, Chile, India and China, all of which are expected to more than double their desalination capacity.

The new Desalination Inventory is being released in the week leading up to the 2013 IDA World Congress, which takes place October 20-25 in Tianjin, China, where these and other developments will be explored during a four day Technical Program and the latest technologies showcased in the World Congress Exhibition.

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December 2020

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