Growing Scarcity of Freshwater Drives Demand for Desalination Technologies

May 7, 2014
Global market for desalination technologies is projected to reach $49.9 billion by 2020

Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA) has announced the release of a comprehensive global report on desalination technologies markets. Global market for desalination technologies is projected to reach $49.9 billion by 2020, driven by rising water needs in industrial and consumer sectors and a parallel reduction in freshwater supply due to global climate change and water contamination.

Water is a vital resource that supports life on earth. The planet’s first life forms evolved as a result of water acting as a medium for combining organic compounds. As the most complex of all species, humans require water as a solvent to dissolve nutrients from food and as a delivery mechanism to deliver the same to cells in the body to support metabolism. In addition to supporting life, water also remains essential for the advancement of civilization. From ancient to modern civilization, water has been and continues to be the elixir shaping human development. Modern life requires freshwater for agriculture, irrigation of plants, gardening, industrial/manufacturing activities and energy production, among others.

Currently, more than 50% of the world’s 7.1 billion population lives in water stressed areas. Freshwater is increasingly becoming unusable due to pollution and contamination by industrial effluents.

Several factors over the decades have played a role in aggravating the shortage of water supply, which continues to gain frightening proportions. These factors include globalization, rapid economic development, industrialization, urbanization, pollution, continued subsidization and promotion of unsustainable agricultural methods including inefficient irrigation methods, growing popularity of water-guzzling bio-fuel farming, water abuse in industrial and manufacturing sectors, short-sighted water policies, poor water conservation (lack of water harvesting and water retention strategies), growing population, and climate change in the form of higher than normal environmental temperatures and the ensuing evaporation of surface and ground water.

Groundwater withdrawals for industrial and agricultural use has been spiraling in sync with the rapid expansion of the manufacturing, energy industries and increase in acreage of arable land in response to food security concerns to feed a massively growing population. Also, economic prosperity of the last half a century has resulted in increased incomes, rising standards of living and increased per capita consumption of water at an unsustainable rate. Growing demand for bottled water as a result of scarcity of local potable water is resulting in privatization of water resources, which in turn amplifies the threat of water crisis.

As the world searches for sustainable solutions for an increasingly thirsty planet, growing in prominence are alternative sources of deriving freshwater supplies for agriculture, domestic as well as industrial applications. Water desalination technologies have elicited specific interest in this regard. With the oceans accounting for more than 90% of the world’s water, desalination technologies with their ability to strip salinity from raw salty ocean as well as sea water feeds, hold the promise of providing abundant freshwater fit for human consumption. Commercial interest in water desalination is supported by growing awareness over the value of water; increasing international, national and regional level focus on making well informed water management decisions; and focus on technologies which provide freshwater in a growing number of regions where freshwater availability is dwindling.

The need to gain equitable economic growth and sustain commercial and economic activity even in water scarce parts of the world is driving demand for technologies like desalination. The role of water in socio-economic development is indirectly spurring adoption of desalination. Reliable access to water is a key determinant of industrial success and is a competitive advantage for developing countries seeking to attract foreign investments and generate business opportunities. Demand for desalination as a tool for achieving economic growth arises from the fact that desalination helps decouple an economy’s GDP growth from the volatility in rainfall and weather conditions.

As indicated in the new market research report on desalination technologies, the Middle-East represents the largest as well as the fastest growing market worldwide with a CAGR of 15.1% over the analysis period.

The research report titled “Desalination Technologies: A Global Strategic Business Report,” released by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive review of market trends, issues, drivers, mergers, acquisitions and other strategic industry activities. The report provides market estimates and projections in U.S. dollars for all major geographic markets including the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia and Rest of Europe), Asia-Pacific (Australia, China, India and Rest of Asia-Pacific), Middle-East, Latin-America (Brazil, Mexico and Rest of Latin-America). Key technology segments analyzed in the report include multi-stage Flash, multi-effect distillation, reverse osmosis and others.

Source: Global Industry Analysts Inc.