By Shane McGinley
Saudi project set to be largest plant in world as 244 new facilities come on line in 2009.
The global desalination market is growing at a record rate and the Middle East region is leading the world in terms of demand and expansion, according to industry figures.
The Worldwide Desalting Plant Inventory, compiled by the International Desalination Association (IDA) and Global Water Intelligence (GWI) for the World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse, said “there has been an explosion of demand in the GCC region due to population growth and high oil prices”.
According to Lisa Henthorne, president of IDA, the world’s largest desalination plants, both online and in the planning stages, are those seawater facilities located in the Middle East region.
This year saw the highest largest increase in global desalination capacity, with 244 new plants brought online.
Seven hundred plants were commissioned, with the Shoaiba 3 project in Saudi Arabia set to be the largest plant in the world.
“We project that by 2014, we will be adding more than the equivalent of a new River Thames each year to the world’s renewable freshwater resources. By 2020, the seawater desalination industry will be adding twice that amount,” said Christopher Gasson, publisher of GWI.
Gasson predicts that by 2020 the seawater desalination industry will grow by 60 per cent and will be worth approximately $16 billion.
Last month, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) signed a $2.15 billion investment deal for its Shuweihat 2 water and power project.
“Whilst major economies were going through a troubled financial climate, ADWEA succeeded in achieving the largest long-term financing contract in the region extending to 22 years with several Asian, European regional and local financial institutions," Sheikh Diab Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of Adwea said in a statement to Reuters.