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The global water desalination equipment market size was valued at USD 8.68 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 16.81 billion by 2029 from its value USD 9.36 billion in 2022, at a CAGR of 8.7% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with water desalination equipment experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all the regions compared to pre-pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of -25.9% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Water desalination uses seawater, brackish water, river water, and others to produce freshwater. It is an incremental open-source technology to realize the utilization of water resources. It is required to process and produce freshwater, which includes various configurations of Reverse Osmosis (RO) and multi-effect evaporators for treating sea or other water sources. The demand depends on the new plant construction and existing plant development or service. Globally, there is a continuous increase in the desalination installed capacity, which drives the market.
Decline Investment in the Water Sector amid COVID-19 Pandemic to Hamper Market Growth
The outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to slow investment in the water sector worldwide. The importance of operational reliability has also increased due to the cost of disruptions. These operational needs arise from shifts in demand patterns, supply disruptions, and governments' various contingency measures to deal with the pandemic. The world's poorest received the COVID-19 shock on top of large urban water and sanitation deficits, all of which point to a potentially overwhelming burden to contain the virus. Poor access, reliability, and the quality of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) pose risks in developing countries. Large cities also face risks stemming from population densities and informal settlements. A recent World Bank tool for identifying pandemic “hotspots” pointed to cramped urban living conditions and inadequate public services, particularly poor waste management and sanitation, as significant sources of risk of contagion in large emerging markets such as Cairo and Mumbai.
In addition, various construction sites and manufacturing companies were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, hampering the demand for water desalination equipment. However, as the world returned to normal since the beginning of 2021, the demand for water desalination plants is expected to increase as governments of different countries plan to invest in water treatment solutions to meet water shortage problems.
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Desalination Sector Shifting toward Renewable for Sustainable Production is Growing the Demand for Water Desalination Equipment
The whole world is focusing on the adoption of renewables across every sector to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions. The water desalination market is also not behind in renewable energy adoption. In a desalination plant, the energy required per kiloliter is about 3 kWh typically these days. Fossil fuel-based energy dominates the global desalination market. According to the World Bank statistics, in 2021, energy prices increased by over 80% compared to 2020, and the scenario continues. The primary reason behind the upsurge in energy prices is an uptick in commodity prices for coal and natural gas. On the other side, as per the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report, 62% of the renewable energy added in 2020 had lower costs than cheapest fossil fuel alternatives. Currently, solar and wind energy sources are anticipating high growth in terms of consumption due to low cost and meeting net-zero emission targets.
The trend of producing water sustainably encourages water desalination companies across the globe to utilize renewable power. Many Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SRWO) desalination projects are coming or already in operation using photovoltaic solar as a primary energy source. For instance, Yanbu-4, a desalination project in Saudi Arabia with a 450,000 m3/day capacity, will utilize photovoltaic solar for its SWRO plant, and the plant will come into operation by 2023. With the growing utilization of renewable energy, the requirement for renewable (solar, wind power, geothermal) based desalination systems is also increasing steadily.
Depletion of Freshwater Leads to an Increase in Requirement for Desalinated Water
Freshwater, or drinking water, has become scarce over the years, making people more dependent on its accessibility. Even in countries with adequate water resources, water scarcity is not uncommon due to poor management of water resources, conflicts, and climate change, among other factors. According to UNICEF, at least one month each year, almost two-thirds of the global population experiences severe water scarcity. Still, over two billion people across the globe lack access to safely managed drinking water at home.
Moreover, only 3% of water on the earth is freshwater, and among that about two-thirds is unavailable for use or frozen. People still suffer from waterborne diseases due to less availability of freshwater in several areas globally. It has also been observed in the past half-decade that the death counts due to unsafe drinking water have increased. Several countries' governments are setting up water desalination plants to overcome the scarcity of freshwater. Currently, there are over 18,000 water desalination plants across the globe. The water desalination capacity is also increasing at a steady pace due to the growing demand for freshwater. With increase in water desalination capacity, the demand for desalination equipment is also growing substantially.
Increase in Saltwater Intrusion Globally Surges the Demand for Water Desalination Equipment
Several areas across the globe are largely affected by saltwater intrusion, which can lead to groundwater quality degradation, including drinking water resources. Saltwater intrusion is increasing in many coastal areas due to groundwater pumping from coastal freshwater wells. In some coastal areas, saltwater intrusion is caused naturally due to increase in sea water level and decrease in groundwater level. Increased melting of glaciers due to global warming and ocean thermal expansion are the reasons behind the global sea-level rise. The sea level has risen 21-24 centimeters since 1880, and in 2020, global sea level set a new record high of 91.3 mm.
Saltwater intrusion can't be stopped as there is a continuous increase in greenhouse emissions globally, but it can be minimized. Over the long run, there should be a feasible solution to fulfill the demand for freshwater as saltwater intrusion is taking place to a great extent. Desalination is one of the convenient solutions to fill the freshwater white space.
Growing Environmental Impact due to Desalination Plant Operation Hampering the Demand for Water Desalination Equipment
Most desalination forms use a lot of energy to process freshwater. Most fossil fuel-based sources fulfill the energy requirement, which amplifies climate change and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Marine life is largely affected due to huge utilization of seawater intake for desalination. Larvae, mature fish, and other sea creatures die when sucked or trapped into the intake pipes. According to the estimate of the State Water Resources Control Board, California, on an annual basis, about 70 billion marine life and fish larvae are killed by California's coastal power plants.
To produce one gallon of freshwater, approximately two gallons of ocean water are required, and a single desalination facility can't fulfill the need for a region's freshwater supply. There will be more desalination plants and more chances of greenhouse gas emissions and threats to marine life. Unless and until there are convenient energy solutions to run desalination plants, there will be continuous emissions of greenhouse gasses. To overcome the impact of desalination on the environment, several initiatives such as recycled water expansion, stormwater capture and reuse, water conservation, and so on have been taken, which, in turn, decrease the number of year-on-year growth in desalination plant count, thereby hampering the market growth.
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Reverse Osmosis (RO) to Dominate the Market Due to its Low Energy Consumption Factor
The market is categorized into Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) Distillation, Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), Reverse Osmosis (RO), Electrodialysis (ED), Nanofiltration (NF), and others based on technology. Among all the technologies, the Reverse Osmosis (RO) segment holds the highest market share globally. This is attributed to the fact that in low energy consumption, RO technology dominates the global water desalination industry.
The sale of desalination equipment was primarily dominated by membrane technologies in the past, in which RO had the maximum water desalination equipment market share. The Middle East & Africa still utilizes thermal technologies in their desalination plants. Where the average global share of RO desalination was over 68% in 2021, the Middle East & Africa were around 52%. RO desalination percentage in the Middle East & Africa is lower than the global average. Still, compared to the past statistics, the region has increased its membrane capacity more than the thermal.
Sea Water to Dominate over the Forecast Period Owing to its Availability across the Globe
The market is categorized into sea water, brackish water, river water, and others based on source. Sea water is expected to dominate the global market throughout the forecast period. Globally, 96.5% of the water is concentrated in the ocean, so freshwater is required across several regions. Thus, seawater is the most available and utilized source for water desalination.
Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) equipment is the major target segment for industrial participants. The overall market primarily depends on SWRO equipment as most water desalination plants are desalinating sea water. The brackish water segment is anticipated to increase its market share by 2029 and is expected to increase its market revenue faster than seawater. The primary reason behind the growth is an increase in the volume of brackish water year after year. As the brackish water is less saline than seawater, there is a prominent growth prospect.
>50,000 m3/Day Holds Majority of Market Share Owing to the Presence of Large Desalination Plants Worldwide
Based on plant capacity, the market is classified into >50,000 m3/d, 10,000-50,000 m3/d, 1,000-10,000 m3/d, and <1000 m3/d. Extra-large desalination plants with >50,000 m3/day capacity have dominated the global market due to more numbers of large desalination plants across the globe in operation and already in construction. About 70% of the global water desalination capacity is concentrated in extra-large and large water desalination plants across the globe while the Middle East & Africa alone has over 50% capacity.
Over 40% of seawater reverse osmosis plants have a capacity of >50,000 m3/day across the globe. The demand for RO is much higher, considering that the demand growth of water desalination equipment is high across the extra-large and large water desalination plants. Small water desalination plants have less contribution to the market.
Municipal Holds the Dominant Market Share Due to the Growing Requirement for Drinking Water
The consumption of drinking water steadily increased over the past half-decade due to rapid population growth across the globe. With the growing requirement for drinking water, the municipal need for potable water has increased. Globally, municipal consumers utilize a maximum portion of drinking water. As the demand for drinking water is much higher across municipal end-users, desalinated water is supplied mainly to a particular segment. There is a huge demand for freshwater and drinking water across industries, power stations, irrigation, and others. Over the forecast period, the need for water desalination is anticipated to increase faster across the plants supplying freshwater to all other end-users than in municipalities.
Middle East & Africa Water Desalination Equipment Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)
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The market has been studied geographically across five main regions, North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa.
The market in the Middle East & Africa stood at USD 4.33 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to hold the largest market value share over the forecast period. Growth in the water desalination sector across the Middle East & African nations and high volume requirement of freshwater are driving the regional water desalination equipment market growth. The region is also considered the most water-stressed region in the world, where seawater desalination is the primary option to fulfill the demand for freshwater.
The North America market has been growing steadily over the past few years. With population growth and industrial developments across the U.S., the domestic need for reliable water supplies continues to become critical. The quality and availability of traditional water sources continue to decline with the demand for freshwater across industrial, agricultural, and municipal consumers. In contrast, the cost of developing new supplies continues to rise in the U.S.
There is a continuous capacity addition in the water desalination sector across Europe. The region accounted for around 9% of the global water desalination capacity. Currently, the region has an estimated 8.8 million m3/day capacity. With capacity addition, the demand for water desalination is also growing across the region. More than half of the desalination equipment sales across Europe are currently from Spain. In terms of desalination capacity, the country is in the fifth position worldwide and holds about 6% of the global desalination capacity. Currently, the country is home to 216 small capacity plants (100-500 m³/day), 450 medium capacity plants (500-10,000 m³/day), and 99 large capacity plants (10,000-250,000 m³/day).
Asia Pacific is the second-largest market, and the region accounted for about 23% of the global market share in 2021. Growing industrial development and rapid growth in population statistics increase the demand for freshwater across the region, opening up the requirement for desalinated water. China is dominating the Asian market. The country is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 8.9% over the forecast period. By 2025, the country's total scale of seawater desalination will reach more than 2.9 million tons/day, which shows an overwhelming demand across the country.
Latin America is one of the largest emerging markets, as many desalination projects are about to come in the coming five years. There are 30 desalination projects underway across the region, and to be completed by 2025 with an approximate investment of USD 25 billion. Chile and Mexico are the key countries contributing substantially to the market in the region.
TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC. Received RO Membrane Order from the UAE
The global market is moderately fragmented, with many players offering technology-based desalination equipment to desalination companies. Leading manufacturers already dominate regions of high demand with a maximum requirement for seawater desalination plants for RO technology. Although many manufacturers worldwide offer equipment for water desalination, the top five manufacturers capture over 55% of the global market. The key players are actively operating worldwide, applying organic and inorganic growth strategies to reinforce their market position. Some water desalination equipment players are focusing on specific regions to meet the increasing demand for water desalination plants based on renewable energy.
An Infographic Representation of Water Desalination Equipment Market
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The global water desalination equipment market research report offers an in-depth analysis of the market. It further provides details on the adoption of water desalination equipment across regions. Information on trends, drivers, opportunities, and market restraints can further help stakeholders gain valuable insights into the market. The report offers a detailed competitive landscape by presenting information on key players and their strategies in the market.
Value (USD Billion)
By Technology, Source, Plant Capacity, End-user, and Region
By Plant Capacity
Fortune Business Insights estimates that the global market size was USD 8.68 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 16.81 billion by 2029.
Registering a CAGR of 8.7%, the market is projected to exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2022-2029).
In 2021, the region stood at USD 4.33 billion.
The municipal segment is set to hold the largest share of the market during the forecast period.
The increasing scarcity of freshwater propels the demand for water desalination, followed by equipment.
TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC., SUEZ Group, DUPONT, and SULZER are the key players operating across the industry.
The Middle East & Africa dominated the market in 2021
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