New desalination capacity up by 39% in first half of 2008

Newly contracted desalination capacity has risen in the first six months of 2008 by 39%, according to the International Desalination Association (IDA). This comes on top of a 43% growth during 2007.

According to the 2008-2009 edition of IDA’s Desalination Yearbook, the amount of global contracted (planned) capacity grew in 2007 by 6.8 million m³/d, up from 4.7 million m³/d in total contracted capacity in 2006. This increase of 2.1 million m³/d is enough to supply potable water to more than 50 million people.

As of June 30, 2008, the cumulative contracted capacity of desalination plants around the world stood at 62.8 million m³/d. Seawater desalination makes up 60% of this total, with brackish water desalination representing another 12.2 million m³/d. Wastewater applications of desalination technologies for water reuse is growing fast, currently representing 5% of total capacity.

The IDA Desalination Yearbook 2008-2009 also reports that the number of contracted desalination plants worldwide totalled 13,869 as of 30 June 2008, up from 13,080 the prior year. A comprehensive global desalination market snapshot is available on IDA’s online press room at

“Water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity in many parts of the world. The newly released statistics indicate that desalination is playing an increasingly important role in addressing the global thirst for new water resources. In fact, for many communities, desalination provides the only reliable source of potable water,” said Patricia Burke, Secretary General of the International Desalination Association.

The yearbook also shows that plants are now being built on a new massive scale. Currently, the largest single desalination plant in operation is the 456,000 m³/d plant serving Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
However, there are five other plants with capacities in excess of 500,000 m³/d now under construction in the Middle East region. The largest of these is the 880,000 m³/d Shoaiba 3 unit in Saudi Arabia. Later this year, the first 1,000,000 m³/d plant is expected to be commissioned in Saudi Arabia.

Copies of the IDA Desalination Yearbook 2008-2009 are available to IDA members or can be obtained directly from the publisher, Global Water Intelligence. The data in the report represents the 21st IDA Worldwide Desalting Plant Inventory. For more details about IDA membership, contact IDA at [email protected]. To purchase copies of the Yearbook, contact Global Water Intelligence at [email protected].