$14 Billon/yr Investment for Desalination

 In the next five years, suppliers of thermal and membrane desalination systems will sell systems valued at $73.5 billion of which $21 billion will be spent on brackish water systems and $52.5 billion for seawater systems. A significant portion of the seawater desalination investment will be for thermal plants but membrane technology will continue to gain market share.

There are promising new technologies such as electrochemical desalination and forward osmosis which promise higher energy efficiency, greater liquid recovery and lower costs of ownership.

The brackish water forecast is less precise than the seawater forecast due to the definition of the term “brackish.” This can include total dissolved solids content as low as 500 ppm to as high as 2000 ppm. 

The potential for desalination is very high. In 2015 desalination equaled only 2.3 percent of water delivered by municipalities. This percentage will climb to 3 percent in 2020 as reported by McIlvaine Company . However, since desalination is utilized by industry and commerce, the desalination capacity should be compared to all freshwater withdrawal. Power plants withdraw ten times more water than municipal drinking water plants. Power plants desalinate only a minuscule fraction of their total withdrawal, so the growth potential in power and other industries is very large.