China aims to increase its seawater desalination capacity to 2.2-2.6 million m³/d by 2015, according to a statement released by the General Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, on the central government’s website on 13 February 2012.

This is equivalent to around 6% of current worldwide seawater desalination capacity.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, says that China currently desalinates about 640,000 m³/d of seawater, according to data from the website of Environmental Test Equipment, which predicted investment in the industry will reach Yuan 20 billion (US$ 3.2 billion) over the next four years.

By 2015, desalinated seawater will contribute to over half of newly-added water supply in islands and about 15% of water supply in coastal areas lacking fresh water, according to the government statement. With the expansion of facilities and advanced technologies, China will have 20 cities using desalinated seawater by 2015.

The statement said the Chinese government attaches importance to developing the seawater desalination industry, as it helps create new sources of economic growth and restructure the economy. In addition, the central government has targeted indigenous innovation for the industry, with 70% of raw material equipment expected to be developed domestically.

The government also encourages coastal and water-needy cities to have priority use of desalinated seawater. According to the statement, the government will fund key seawater desalinated projects and encourage private capital to invest in the industry.

Water suppliers are allowed to seek a “rational” price formation mechanism to reflect the resource scarcity on islands and in coastal cities short of fresh water.