Localisation of desalination products and systems in China is targeted to rise from 60% to 90% by 2020, according to market researchers Frost & Sullivan.

At present, the gap in cost between domestic and imported desalination equipment is still significant, says the report. Imported equipment is still preferred by large-scale project developers, mainly on account of the assurance related to stable quality and treatment efficiency.

But, says the report, the ratio of production/supply from local manufacturers or technology suppliers against overall supplies in China is trending towards localisation. It also predicts an increasingly favourable market for desalination in the country in the next few years.

“Though detailed policies for the desalination industry are yet to be confirmed for the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015), it can be expected that favourable policies will become clear and will be translated into city-level goals with regulations on both privatisation and long- term risk proof,” states Frost & Sullivan analyst Jennie Peng.

She predicts more up-to-date desalination development plans on a city level next year.

The report says that the central government is encouraging the development of renewable-energy projects (such as wind-powered/nuclear-powered plants), in which desalination can be adopted as an auxiliary water supply and treatment system. This is to utilise either the abundant power or heat to generate desalinated water and integrate the energy and water-recycling system.

Desalination will then be able to benefit from the special fund allocated to the renewable energy industry by the Chinese government.