Desalination is one of many technologies for water supply. In 2018 desalination accounted for 13.9% of the capex for municipal and industrial water supply and the cumulative desalination plants delivered less than 1% of the supply of water. It is the most expensive form of delivering fresh water and it can cause serious environmental damage with discharges of brine into inland seas. So, when is it viable?
Desalination is sometimes the only solution for water supply in very demanding circumstances, either of water shortage or when ultra pure water is required for industrial process.
This report positions desalination in the maze of water flows and treatment technologies for water and waste, and examines competitive technologies.
- The water and waste sector is quantified In $ capex at all stages of the water value chain, including desalination as a segment within the total infrastructure.
- The water value chain is analysed in four segments - Water Supply (withdrawal including desalination/distribution/treatment) - Sanitation (collection/treatment) - Industry (including desalination) - Agriculture - Point-of-Use.
- Desalination sales are plotted from 1972 to 2017 and forecast to 2022 in m3/d and $ value.
- Comprehensive learning curve analysis is employed to predict price trends.
- National markets are analysed in detail for all countries using desalination.
- End-user shares are given with a tabulation of the main customers in user countries.
- Membrane (ED, EDR & RO) and thermal (MSF, MED & VCD) desalination technologies are described, with global shares regional emphasis.
- Renewable energy desalination systems are witnessing an increasing interest worldwide and increasingly being adopted in some regions.
- Municipal and industrial wastewater treatments and their technologies are outlined and discussed, as recycling competitors to desalination supply.
- The costs of desalination are analysed with the factors influencing them, past trends plotted and future projections made.
- Peak Salt - the environmental impact of desalination, is having a critical impact on some inland seas and waterways, notably the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
- Desalination, like other major industrial processes, has environmental impacts that must be understood and mitigated.
- Future desalination technologies are outlined.
- The three French giants water and waste companies are profiled; Veolia, Suez and Saur.
- More than 150 participants in the industrial water treatment chemicals market in North America are listed.
- The 25 top desalination companies are listed.
- Leading reverse osmosis membrane manufacturers are listed, with materials, configuration (hollow, plated, spiral) and application.
Desalination within the global water value chain
The global water value chain capex
Cost of desalination
The global water value chain
Demand for desalination
The competitive pressures – water pollution and its reuse
Industrial waste water
Municipal water pollution
Advantages of Desalination
Peak salt - environmental impact of desalination
1. THE WORLD’S WATER SUPPLY, CONSUMPTION AND POLLUTION
The resources gap
2. DESALINATION AND THE WIDER WATER MARKET
The water value chain
End use of water
Industrial waste water treatment
Municipal waste water treatment
Agricultural waste water treatment
Total cost in the water value chain
Desalination annual contracted capacity
Cost of desalination
3. WATER POLLUTION
Industrial waste water
Municipal water pollution
4. MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT
1. Primary treatment
2. Secondary treatment
3. Tertiary treatment
Europe and North America
Latin America and the Caribbean
5. AGRICULTURAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT
6. INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT
Content of industrial wastewater
Industrial water treatment
Cost factors of industrial water treatment
Capital costs of industrial water treatment
Process water treatment
Process purification and separation
Wastewater treatment systems
7. DESALINATION TECHNOLOGIES
Multistage Flash (MSF)
Multi Effect Distillation (MED)
Mechanical Vapour Compression / Vapour Compression (VCD)
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Forward Osmosis (FO)
Electrodialysis (ED) and (EDR)
Electrodialysis Reversal (EDR)
Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC)
Energy Recovery Devices
8. RENEWABLE ENERGY (RE) POWERED DESALINATION
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
Salinity Gradient/Osmotic Power
9. COSTS OF DESALINATION
Cost Components – CAPEX
Cost Components – OPEX
10. FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES
Forward Osmosis (FO)
Capacitive Deionisation (CDI)
The FO market
Other new desalination technologies
11. PEAK SALT - ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF DESALINATION
Water Stress, Surplus and Users
12. WATER TYPES
13. GLOBAL DESALINATION MARKET
Historical development of the desalination market
Cost of water
Construction cost versus size
Construction gains and plant size
Future price trends
The learning curve concept
Validation of the learning curve predictions
The installed base of desalination plant
End -users of desalination
Private and Public Sector Participation
14. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS – MIDDLE EAST
Middle Eastern Mediterranean countries
Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
United Arab Emirates
Other Persian Gulf countries
15. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS - AFRICA
16. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS - ASIA
The desalination market in China
Past constraints on desalination development in China
17. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS – THE STANS
18. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS - PACIFIC
19. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS - AMERICAS
Regional distribution of desalination
American Virgin Islands
Anguilla and the Bahamas
British Virgin Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
20. NATIONAL DESALINATION MARKETS - EUROPE
21. WATER & WASTE TREATMENT AND DESALINATION COMPANIES
The three French leaders in water & waste, municipal and industrial
SAUR Group-Societé d'Aménagement Urbain et Rural
Industrial waste water treatment companies
Companies managing and optimising the global industrial water cycle
List of Figures:
Figure 1: The global water cycle
Figure 2: Global freshwater withdrawals; consumption and wastewater production by major water use sector
Figure 3: The water value chain
Figure 4: Use of withdrawn water by regions
Figure 5: Investment in water supply by type of cost
Figure 6: Investment in distribution by type of cost, new networks, renovation & maintenance
Figure 7: Investment in wastewater collection by type of expenditure, treatment or collection
Figure 8: The mismatch of capex versus consumption in the water and waste sector
Figure 9: Renewable internal freshwater resources per capita in 2013
Figure 10: The cost of water supply measures (Indian example)
Figure 11: A model of primary, secondary and tertiary water treatment
Figure 12: Percentage of population served by different types of sanitation systems, 2014
Figure 13: Changes in wastewater treatment in regions of Europe between 1980 and 2012
Figure 14: (a) the main desalination processes; (b) the contribution of each desalination process to the world water production
Figure 15: Diagram of Multistage Flash Distillation plant
Figure 16: Diagram of Multi Effect Distillation plant
Figure 17: Diagram of Vapour Compression desalination plant
Figure 18: Brief timeline of the development of Reverse Osmosis membranes.
Figure 19: Diagram demonstrating the principles of osmosis
Figure 20: Diagram demonstrating the principles of Reverse Osmosis
Figure 21: Flow diagram of a Reverse Osmosis system
Figure 22: Diagram of a cross-flow membrane compared to a conventional membrane
Figure 23: Diagram demonstrating the principles of Forward Osmosis
Figure 24: Diagram of Electrodialysis desalination
Figure 25: Typical hybrid plant set up
Figure 26: Energy required to deliver 1 m3 of clean water from various sources
Figure 27: Shares of renewable technologies in desalination
Figure 28: Global regions appropriate for solar thermal power plants
Figure 29: Water stressed countries with wind power potential
Figure 30: Global hotspots for geothermal activity
Figure 31: The Medring
Figure 32: Potential sites for OTEC desalination plants: Caribbean, China, India, Northern Australia, South Western American States and Countries in the Persian Gulf
Figure 33: Typical SWRO desalination plant CAPEX breakdown
Figure 34: Typical SWRO desalination plant OPEX breakdown
Figure 35: Forward Osmosis
Figure 36: The difference between Reverse Osmosis and Forward Osmosis
Figure 37: Percentage of population facing severe water stress, 2007
Figure 38: Global water needs including potential climate change/pollution-driven change
Figure 39: Different water sources used in the desalination industry
Figure 40: Installed capacity in m3/d and online capacity additions, 1960-2017
Figure 41: Capex costs in the MENA region
Figure 42: Opex costs in the MENA region
Figure 43: Capex and Opex in the MENA region
Figure 44: Unit construction cost by size
Figure 45: Awarded SWRO capacity from 1977 to 2015 distributed by (top) SWRO plant size and (bottom) online SWRO capacity from 1977 to 2015 distributed by region.
Figure 46: SWRO Cost Trends
Figure 47: Cumulative Online Capacity by technology from 1969 to 2015 (
Figure 48: (top) SWRO Capex Learning Curve for 1977 - 2015 and 1979 - 2003 and (bottom) fit of the modelled capex values to the actual capex values.
Figure 49: Price trend per m3/d for water sales and capex, 1972 to 2017
Figure 50: Desalination annual capex and contracted m3/d, 1972 to 2022
Figure 51: Capex of desalination plants in nominal $ by region, 2017 to 2022
Figure 52: Total desalination capacity by country, m3/day
Figure 53: Share of desalination capacity, 2017
Figure 54: Total worldwide installed capacity by user type
Figure 55: Share of desalination capacity by country in the Middle East
Figure 56: Water demand in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Algeria and Libya (not including agricultural)
Figure 57: Seawater desalination plants in Saudi Arabia
Figure 58: The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System
Figure 59: Supply capacity of large-scale desalination and recycled water plants for major capital cities versus total urban water use, 2006-07 to 2012-13 (GL/yr)
Figure 60: Cost distribution of desalination processes
Figure 61: Location and extent of saline aquifers
List of Tables
Table 1: Shares of water supply
Table 2: Composition of water & waste infrastructure and supply cost, 2018
Table 3: Wastewater treatment level in Arab countries
Table 4: Countries with the lowest level of wastewater treatment in Asia Pacific
Table 5: Connections to wastewater treatment
Table 6: % levels of treatment in selected countries, 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2016
Table 7: Generation of wastewater by type of industry, EU, 2011
Table 8: Content of typical wastewater in some major industries
Table 9: Desalination technologies and processes
Table 10: Comparison of different filtration and membrane systems
Table 11: Comparison of the different desalination technologies
Table 12: Benefits of different hybrid configurations
Table 13: Possible combinations of renewable energy and desalination technology
Table 14: Comparison of different energy sources for desalination
Table 15: Costs for three SWRO plants located in various locations of the globe, such as the US, the Middle East, and Australia.
Table 16: Naturally occurring salinity levels
Table 17: Water scarce countries
Table 18: Water footprint for different energy sources
Table 19: Capex of desalination plants in nominal $ by region, 2017 to 2022
Table 20: Types of public and private sector participation in the desalination industry
Table 21: Key decision makers for desalination plant applications in countries with a significant or potentially significant desalination market
Table 22: Cumulative investment in water desalination in selected MENA countries ($billion using 2004 prices as a baseline)
Table 23: Summary of Australian desalination plants
Table 24: Surface water storage, desalination capacity, desalinated water supplied and recycled water supplied by region.
Table 25: Overview of suppliers of RO membranes