Processing Magazine

Demand for desalinated water drives global capacity expansion

October 16, 2013

<photocredit>Anthony Villalon/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

The use of desalination has increased dramatically over the last year, leading to a 50 percent hike in capacity in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a new report by the International Desalination Association.

Figures included in the DesalData report show that 59 percent of water going through desalination comes from seas and oceans, while 22 percent is brackish water. River water accounts for nine percent and wastewater represents three percent of desalinated water, Bloomberg reported. At the other end of the process, cities consume 61 percent of desalinated water, followed by industry, which uses 26 percent, and power stations, taking 7 percent.

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Desalination plants commissioned in 2013 alone have the combined capacity to produce six million cubic meters per day. This amount equals the fresh water that pours down on London over 28 months of rain, the report calculated. This brings the total capacity of all 17,277 operational desalination plants worldwide to 80.9 million cubic meters.

The biggest producer of desalinated water in the world is Saudi Arabia, meeting a large proportion of its needs for fresh water thanks to its 9.2 million cubic meters a day capacity. Another country that boasts a well-developed desalination system is the United Arab Emirates, with a capacity of 8.4 million cubic meters a day, followed by Spain, with 3.8 million, the report revealed.