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27 Aug 2012: 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 that 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. While most plants have been built in the Middle East, China now has 30 plants in operation and another six planned, while India has eight in operation and three others on the way, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “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. A separate report, from Elsevier and Stockholm International Water Institute, says that research into water is growing faster than the four-percent annual growth rate for all research disciplines as the gap between supply and demand widens.

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