Desalination Sector Surges as Technology Improves, Demand Grows


A new report predicts that global investment in water desalination projects will triple over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016, driven by improvements in technology and a surge in companies entering the sector.

According to Global Water Intelligence, investments in desalination plant installations will grow from $5 billion last year to $8.9 billion this year; by 2016, the report says, the sector could reach $17 billion.

A critical factor has been the emergence of technologies that require less energy to make potable water from seawater, including a process called forward osmosis that uses less heat and power than existing reverse osmosis plants and could cut the cost of desalination by as much as 30 percent.

Also driving this surge is growing demand in developing nations already facing water shortages, including China and India.

“Those huge economies will not be able to step forward without a solution to water scarcity, and one of the solutions is going to be desalination,” Avshalom Felber, CEO of Israel-based IDE Technologies, told Bloomberg News.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.


  1. This report dosen’t mention the troubled Melbourne Desalination project (over US$6billion) that may never be commissioned nor the fact that the Spanish Government has said no more variations which could mean substantial loses for project winners who cooked the books to win the contract (ouch)

    Degremont (Suez) is in real trounble in Melbourne and the people such as the community of Avalon California have banded to gether to puch back against their desalination plant operators. Fair enough to Avalon is paying 300% more for their water now than they did in 2007 and the people have joinned as a community to oppose this years proposed 83% increase.