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“The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the ocean.”

– Isak Dinesen

Editor’s Note, December 2019

As per International Desalination Association (IDA), currently there are approximately 18,426 desalination plants affecting around 300 million people in 150 countries.

A new market report by OG Analysis says that the surge in demand for fresh water supplies across the globe (addressed by increasing populations, industrialization, and pollution) is estimated to shape the Global Desalination Market size at a CAGR of 7.68% between 2020-2026.

The key market drivers which will contribute to the global desalination market growth are water scarcity crisis, environmental concerns, and the ever-increasing need for recycling wastewater.

The industrial desalination market has grown by 21% in contracted capacity between 2016-2017. Increased activity in upstream and downstream oil & gas, rising commodity prices in the mining industry and rapid growth in the microelectronics industry is creating opportunities for desalination technologies.

The membrane technologies continue to dominate the desalination market. Around 90% of desalination capacity contracted since 2010 employs membrane technologies, with the use of thermal technologies for large-scale projects remaining concentrated mostly in the Middle East.

One of the biggest desalination markets, the Middle East is growing by an average of 8% per year. In 2019, close to 50 projects were launched worldwide, with two-thirds of them in the Persian Gulf alone, a region that represents 1% of the world’s population and 6% of the world’s water needs.

In mid-December this year, the Israeli government approved plans for a new desalination plant which will be the sixth desalination facility in Israel. Once this new plant (Western Galilee) is finalized, it will be the largest in Israel and one of the largest in the world to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology. It will be constructed in two stages, with 100 million m3 of water being produced during each phase.

The desalination market in India is also expected to have a steady growth – driven by its high population and industrialization and is expected to witness a high number of installations in the coming decade.

A month ago, a new 100 MLD desalination plant was inaugurated in Gujarat (India) at Dahej Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) in Bharuch district. Eight desalination plants have been planned in the state.

Even a small state like Odisha is not far behind and will get its first desalination plant in Paradip with a capacity of 10 MLD. The proposed plant is to be built at a cost of around Rs. 116 crore.

The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is also working on proposals to set up a 100 MLD desalination plant in the city. Telangana’s CM had visited a desalination facility in Israel this year and liked the results of desalination. The project would cost about Rs. 700 crore. Two private firms (from Delhi and Chennai) have shown keen interest in the project. The project is most likely to be taken up in a PPP model.

NITI Aayog of India has reportedly proposed to set-up desalination plants to leverage India’s 7,800-km long coastline. Some experts have opposed this idea saying that such a move will destroy the environment, livelihoods of fisherfolk, and burden India with a huge import cost. We do agree that further probes and detailed discussions (though rare in current political climate) are required and must be done before taking such a step.

– Mayur Sharma
Editor, Smart Water & Waste World Magazine

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