Global desalination capacity growing substantially, finds study

Oct. 15, 2013
International Desalination Association, GWI DesalData finds desalination capacity expected to come online in 2013 is 50 percent more than 2012.

TOPSFIELD, MA, and LONDON, Oct. 14, 2013 -- According to new data from the International Desalination Association, the amount of new desalination capacity expected to come online during 2013 is 50 percent more than last year's total. Desalination plants with a total capacity of 6 million cubic meters per day (m3/d) are expected to come online during 2013, compared with 4 million m3/d in 2012.

The new capacity could produce the same amount of freshwater as falls on London in 28 months or 19 months of rain on New York City. It takes the total capacity of all 17,277 commissioned desalination plants in the world for 80.9 million m3/d, which is nearly 32 years of rain for London or just over 21 years of rain in New York.

While this year's growth is somewhat lower than 2010, when 6.5 million m3/d of new capacity was completed, the data shows that demand for desalination continues to grow. An increasing proportion of that growth is coming from the industrial sector. Since 2010, 45 percent of new desalination plants have been ordered by industrial users, such as power stations and refineries, while in the previous four years, only 27 percent of new capacity was ordered by industrial water users.

Industrial applications for desalination grew to 7.6 million m3/d for 2010-2013 compared with 5.9 million m3/d for 2006-2009. Of the 7.6 million m3/d, the power industry accounted for 16%; oil & gas, 12% (up from 7% from 2006-2009); mining & metals, 11%; refining & chemicals, 11%; electronics, 5%; and food & beverage, 3%. Other industrial applications accounted for the remaining 40%.

Seawater desalination continues to represent the largest percentage of online global capacity at 59%, followed by brackish water at 22%, river water at 9%, and wastewater and pure water at 5% each.

The top 10 seawater desalination countries by online capacity are:


Commissioned seawater desalination capacity m3/d

Saudi Arabia




















The markets which are expected to see the fastest growth in desalination over the next five years are South Africa, Jordan, Mexico, Libya, Chile, India, and China, all of which are expected to more than double their desalination capacity.

The new Desalination Inventory is being released in the week leading up to the 2013 IDA World Congress, which takes place October 20-25 in Tianjin, China, where these and other developments will be explored during a four-day Technical Program and the latest technologies showcased in the World Congress Exhibition.

About IDA

The International Desalination Association ( is a non-profit association that serves more than 2,400 core members in 60 countries and reaches an additional 4,000 affiliate members. Its membership comprises scientists, end-users, engineers, consultants and researchers from governments, corporations and academia. IDA is associated with the United Nations as part of a growing international network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


Sponsored Recommendations

Meet the future of MV switchgear

SureSeT new-generation metal-clad. Smarter. Smaller. Stronger.

A digital circuit breaker built for the future

EvoPacT medium voltage digital vacuum circuit breaker

The New Generation of Intelligent MV Switchgear

Step into the future of electrical infrastructure with Intelligent MV Switchgear - where traditional equipment becomes smart, providing real-time data on critical components like...

Switchgear goes digital with SureSeT

Discover what you can do with Square D natively digital MV metal-clad switchgear.