The water scarcity is one of the most critical global risks human beings face. According to the U.N, water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, however, only 4% is freshwater and only 0.5% of this water can be used for human consumption. Whether the cause of the water scarcity stems from climate change or it has been a perpetual concern, humans must develop new technologies that can solve the lack of the most precious natural resource of our planet – water.
Water desalination is a growing technology that offers a solution to water shortage across the globe. Though it requires a great deal of electricity and energy consumption, which makes it much more expensive than fresh water from rivers or groundwater, water desalination is a booming technology that has the potential to change the world. Globally, more than 300 million people get their water from 20,516 desalination plants, according to the International Desalination Association.
- Water desalination process – How Does it work?
- Water desalination – Pros and Cons
- Water desalination worldwide – Top countries
- What countries use water desalination?
- Best water desalination stocks
Water desalination process – How Does it work?
Water desalination is a process that takes away salts and other minerals from seawater. There are three methods of water desalination: thermal, electrical, and pressure. According to Wikipedia, those can be sub-categorized into the following methods: solar distillation, vacuum distillation, multi-stage flash distillation, multiple-effect distillation, vapor-compression distillation, RO – reverse osmosis (The leading process for water desalination), freeze-thaw, electrodialysis membrane, membrane distillation, and wave-powered desalination.
Here’s a great video that explains the process of water desalination:
Water desalination – Pros and Cons
✅ Water desalination can solve water scarcity
✅ The water desalination has been proven effective
✅ For the first time ever, humans can use the biggest source of water in the world – the ocean
✅ Can provide countries and communities security and dependency on other organizations
✅ Can prevent droughts and increase global food production
❌ Water desalination plants are expensive to build
❌ It might significantly increase the cost of water, reducing the accessibility of water to some areas of the world.
❌ The process requires high levels of energy consumption
❌ Water desalination plants might cause contaminated water
❌ The result of the process might cause a dramatic environmental impact
Water desalination – Cost
One of the main risks of water desalination is the expected cost of water following the process. There are many factors that highly affect the cost of desalinated water including human resources, energy prices, the price of electricity, storage, transportation, raw water quality, plantation maintenance, etc.
Though pricing of desalinating water is very complex, Advisian has published an informative study of the estimated cost. According to the study, the average costs of designated water are about $0.70/m3 ($2.65 per thousand gallons) for very large plants and rise to $1.25/m3 ($4.75 per thousand gallons) for small plants.
For comparison, the average price of water in the United States is about $1.50 for 1,000 gallons.
Water desalination worldwide – Top countries
As water scarcity has become a global risk, new companies, as well as governments, invest and develop the technology. The top countries that invest and operate water desalination are usually those who are suffering from a shortage of water. Nowadays, 120 countries in the world operate Desalination plants.
Here are the top water desalination countries in the world:
The lack of potable water has forced Israel to invest in water resources including water desalination. More than 300 water technology companies operate in Israel, including top leading companies and startups such as Netafim and IDE.
Israel has invested heavily in securing water sources and recycling used water and recycles close to 85 percent of its wastewater.
In 2023, Israel is expected to complete the construction of the biggest desalination plant in the world, and the country’s sixth.
The largest producer of desalinated water in the world. 6 plants are located on the East Coast and 21 plants on the Red Sea Coast. The country has recently improved the technology by using renewable solar energy as an energy resource.
The largest water desalination plant is the Jubail Plant, located in Saudi Arabia, which produces 1,401,000 m³ every day.
The United Kingdom is a world leader in water metering technology which allows residents to monitor their water usage online. The UK is planning to have four municipal desalination plants by 2050 and operates one of the most advanced desalination plants in the world – the Thames Water Desalination Plant, also knows as Beckton Desalination Plant
United Arab Emirates
There are two sources of water in the United Arab Emirates, saline (seawater) and groundwater. The primary source of fresh water comes from aquifers, which contains salt and can be used for human consumption. Therefore, the Abu Dhabi-based government has heavily invested in desalination of seawater and has established eight desalination plants in the Gulf state at the cost of over $3.2 billion. The UAE operates 11 desalination plants.
The development and construction of water desalination plants are booming in the United States. Major states and cities such as California, Florida, Boston, San Fransisco, San Diego, Seatle, Texas, Arizona, and other states across the country have a huge number of more than 300 municipal-level seawater and brackish water desalination plants.
India has the largest desalination plant in South Asia, the Minjur Desalination Plant, located in Chennai. Another major water desalination plant is located in Nemmeli, Chennai. India has joined countries using solar-powered desalination after another desalination plant was constructed in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.
Other countries that are at the forefront of water desalination technology include china, which has the Tianjin Beijing Power Plant, Australia, Kuwait, Greece, Bahrain, South Africa, and South Korea.
What countries use water desalination?
According to the International Desalination Association, at the end of 2018, there were 20,516 desalination plants operated in 150 countries worldwide, providing water for more than 300 million people.
desalinated water is usually practiced in dry countries and is currently meet the daily needs of approximately 1% of the world’s population. Some of the countries that heavily rely on desalinated water include Australia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, the United States, The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Lybia, Greece, and Cyprus.
Best water desalination stocks
If you’re looking for a long-term investment that can generate a generous income, investing in water solution companies can be a smart decision. Here are some of the best water stocks to invest in:
- Consolidated Water Co. Ltd (NASDAQ: CWCO)
Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. engages in the development and operation of seawater desalination plants and water distribution systems. The company operates desalination plants and water distribution systems in several Caribbean countries, where the supply of drinking water is scarce and the use of SWRO is economically feasible.
- Suez Water Technologies & Solutions Holdings (EPA: SEV), (OTC: SZEVY)
Suez Water Technologies & Solutions Holdings, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the water and waste cycle management business in France, Europe, and internationally. The company is traded in the United States under the symbol SZEVY and in Euronext exchange under the symbol SEV.
- Andritz AG (VIE: ANDR), (OTC: ADRZF)
The Austrian plant engineering group provides technical support for efficient and economic desalination plants, in particular for Reverse Osmosis(RO) plants. The company is located and is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange.
- Acciona Agua (ANA.MC)
The water arm of Spanish construction conglomerate Acciona is heavily involved in some of the world’s largest and most advanced desalination plants.
- Energy Recovery Inc (NASDAQ: ERII)
Located in California, United States, Energy Recovery Inc provides water solution while improving productivity, profitability, and efficiency within the desalination, oil & gas, and chemical processing industries.