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Desalination Market Analysis

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Where does desalination work?

Desalination plants operate in more than 120 countries in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Cape Verde, Portugal, Greece, Italy, India, China, Japan, and Australia. The largest Seawater Desalination Plant in the Americas came online in 2015 in Carlsbad, CA producing 50 million gallons per day. Worldwide, desalination plants produce over 3.5 billion gallons of potable water a day. The installed RO desalination plant capacity has increased in an exponential scale over the last 30 years.


Historically the desalination market has been led by brackish water plants the US, and seawater plants in the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia work with >15million m³/Day and USA work with >8 million m³/Day


The US has led the membrane market, while Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have led the thermal market. In Unite State built many famous brand like Dupont/Dow/Filmtec, Hydranautics/Nitto, Koch etc. Japan and Korea also own Toray/CSM, LG, Tokybo etc.


The gulf states have traditionally favoured thermal desalinationination, powered by access to abundant oil supplies.


More recently, Spain and the UAE have pushed the US into fourth place in the global desalination market.


Growth since 2003 has been driven by established desalination markets of the Gulf (GCC) region as well as new programmes in Algeria, Australia, and Spain. Desalinationination programmes in these countries have now peaked, and future growth is expected to come from countries such as China, South Africa, and Chile.


What technologies are used on Desalination?

Today there are two main types of desalination technologies – membrane (RO) and thermal (MED, MVC and MSF) desalination. Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination uses the principle of osmosis to remove salt and other impurities, by transferring water through a series of semi-permeable membranes. Membrane desalination has grown rapidly since 2003, and despite expectations of decline, thermal desalination also continues to grow.


Why we need a desalination plant

The growing need of safe, reliable and consistent supply of water had made many manufacturing industries and water treatment plants to look for efficient desalination plants. Desalination is process by which minerals are removed from the water – seawater, brackish water or treated water–to make it pure for various industrial use. Many industries need processed water for manufacturing, water treatment and other activities. The municipal sector uses the largest amount of desalinated water. However, industries such as power generation have the greatest number of desalination facilities.


Since 2003, the demand for large seawater desalination plants has grown significantly. Seawater now accounts for almost two-thirds of all feedwater.



Whos is the Top 20 EPC Desalination plants contractors?

Desalination plants are created by engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors. In terms of contracted capacity 2000-2011, Veolia is the top ranking EPC contractor.

No.1 Veolia (NYSE:VE)

Veolia is ​a $9.7 billion ​French company ​operating in 3 ​business areas:​water, ​environmental ​services, ​energy services ​and transportation.​Water ​management(not ​just desalination)​ represented 45%​ of the Company'​s $28 billion ​revenues in ​2013. ​Veolia has over 1,​700 desalination ​plants located ​in over 80 ​countries. ​ 

No.2 Suez

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is ​a $256 billion ​conglomerate ​involved in ​what seems to ​be a little bit ​of everything ​as well as ​desalination. ​

Degremont is a French ​company ​specializing in ​the production ​of drinking ​water with10,​000 facilities ​around the ​world. The ​Company is ​owned ​bySuez Environnement Company (EPA:​SEV), an $8.8 ​billion French ​holding company.​ 49% of Suez ​revenues come ​from water ​treatment in ​France and ​Spain. ​

In 2013~2014, Suez emerged GE and Degremont, it had been over Doosan to rank No.2


No.3 Doosan Group

Doosan Group is a South ​Korean ​conglomerate ​which is a ​member of the ​Fortune Global ​500, and is ​involved in ​electrical ​power, ​construction, ​machinery, ​defense , ​houses, ​highways and ​bridges, ​chemicals, ​engines… ​and desalination.​

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is ​a $256 billion ​conglomerate ​involved in ​what seems to ​be a little bit ​of everything ​as well as ​desalination.

Fisia Italimpianti is an Italian ​desalination ​company ​predominantly ​working in the ​Middle East. ​The Company is ​owned bySalini ​Impregilo (BIT:​SAL), a $1.9 ​billion Italian ​construction ​company ​involved in ​large-scale ​infrastructure, ​such as dams, ​hydroelectric ​plants, ​motorways, ​railways, ​bridges, etc. ​


No.4 IDE

IDE is currently ​working on ​theCarlsbad ​Projectin San ​Diego, the ​largest ​desalination ​plant in the ​western ​hemisphere when ​finished. The ​Company also ​worked on ​theSorek ​Project, the ​world's largest ​and most ​advanced ​desalination ​plant which ​comprises 20% ​of the ​municipal water ​demand in ​Israel.IDE is ​jointly and ​equally owned ​by Israel ​Chemical Ltd. (​TASE:ICL), a ​global minerals ​and specialty ​chemicals ​company; and ​the Delek Group,​ one of Israel'​s largest ​holding groups. ​


No.5 Acciona

Acciona (BME:ANA)is a ​$4.3 billion ​Spanish ​conglomerate ​group dedicated ​to civil ​engineering, ​construction ​and infrastructure.​ Water and ​services make ​up just 9% of ​the Company's $​6.6 billion in ​revenues. ​


No.6 Hyflux

Hyflux is a $728 ​million ​Singapore ​company which ​built the ​SingSpring ​desalination ​plant that now ​provides 10% of ​Singapore's ​drinking water. ​When theTuaspring ​Desalination ​Plant is ​completed, 25% ​of Singapore ​drinking water ​will be ​provided by ​Hyflux desalination ​plants. The ​Company's focus ​is on advanced ​membranes used ​for desalination ​with 1,300 ​membrane ​products and ​systems ​worldwide.

Hyflux has undergone bankruptcy and reorganization after 2018​


No. 7 Befesa

Befesa is a Spanish ​company ​predominantly ​involved in ​industrial ​waste ​management. In ​looking through ​their investor ​presentation, ​it seems that ​desalination is ​a small part of ​the Company's ​overall ​business focus. ​


No.8 Sadyt/Valoriza

Sadyt/Valoriza is a Spanish ​water treatment ​company ​specializing in ​desalination ​with plants ​incountries ​such as Spain, ​Israel, ​Australia, ​Algeria, Chile, ​and Tunis. The ​Company is ​owned bySacyr (​BME:SCYR), a $2.​7 billion ​Spanish ​construction ​and engineering ​company. ​


No.9 Biwater

Biwateris a private ​UK based ​company ​involved in the ​provision of ​clean water and ​the treatment ​of wastewater. ​The companyhas ​the largest ​installed ​capacity of ​membranes in ​the United ​States as well ​as the largest ​installed ​capacity of ​membrane bio-​reactors (MBR's)​ in the UK. ​Membranes are a ​key part of ​areverse-​osmosisdesalination​ ​system. ​


No.11 Tedagua

Based out of ​Spain,​Tedaguadesigns, ​constructs, ​maintains ​desalination ​plants and ​plants for ​recycling water ​from sewerage ​feedwater. With ​water treatment ​contracts in ​all five ​continents, the ​Company ​considers ​itself to be a ​world leader in ​the water ​treatment ​sector. Tedagua ​is part of the ​Spanish ​construction ​giant, theACS ​Group. With ​over $56 ​billion in ​revenues in ​2013, ACS is ​the #1 ​international ​contractor in ​the world by ​revenues, of ​which ​desalination is ​a small part. ​


No.12 Cadagua

With 40 years ​experience, ​Spanish ​companyCadaguais ​a leader in the ​field of water ​and sewage ​treatment and ​seawater ​desalination.​Cadaguais a ​wholly owned ​subsidiary ​ofSpain's ​Ferrovial SA (​BME:FER),a $14.​5 billion ​multinational ​company engaged ​in the ​transportation ​infrastructure ​sector. ​


No.13 Wetico

With Saudi ​Arabia having ​more desalination ​plants than any ​other country ​in the world, ​it's not ​surprising to ​see a Saudi-​based company ​in the list. ​Privately ​heldWeticois a ​100 employee ​company which ​builds and runs ​water, ​desalination, ​sewage and ​wastewater ​treatment ​plants. ​Weticowas ​awarded the ​contract to ​build Shoaiba ​Barge, the ​largest ​offshore ​desalination ​plant in the ​world designed ​to ease the ​water shortage ​in the Western ​Province of ​Saudi Arabia. ​


No.14 Nomura Micro Science

Nomura Micro ​Scienceis a $32 ​million micro-​cap company ​that trades on ​the Tokyo Stock ​Exchange (TYO:​6254) and is ​involved in ​water treatment ​and chemicals. ​The Company has ​a proprietary ​reverse osmosis ​systemcalled ​HEROwhich they ​claim ​hasovercome all ​disadvantages ​of a conventional ​reverse osmosis ​system.No ​breakdown of ​revenues is ​provided in the ​financials, so ​it is difficult ​to know what ​percentage is ​coming from ​desalination. ​The company ​history on the ​website listing ​accomplishments ​over the past ​44 years ​mentions ​nothing about ​desalination. ​

No.15 Inima

GS Inimais a worldwide ​leader in the ​water treatment ​sector with ​more than200 ​water treatment ​installations. ​Inima is is ​part of theGS ​E&C group ​which has ​holding ​companies in ​the areas of ​engineering, ​construction ​andenvironmental ​services.Inima ​claims to have ​developed the ​first ​desalination ​plant in the ​world. Today, ​they have 30 ​desalination ​plants in Spain,​ Algeria, Chile,​ Mexico, and ​the U.S. ​


No.16 aqualia

According to ​Global Water ​Intelligence,​aqualiais the ​currently the ​third-largest ​water ​management ​company in the ​world. Aqualia ​is owned by FCC ​(BME:FCC), a $2.​5 billion ​publicly traded ​Spanish company ​with 63,000 ​employees which ​is involved in ​infrastructure, ​environmental ​services, and ​energy. ​ Just 15% of ​FCC's total ​revenues are ​from water ​management, 80% ​of which are ​from Spain. ​Spain is the ​country with ​the 4th largest ​number of ​desalination ​plants in the ​world. ​


No.17 Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Heavy ​Industriesis a $​20.5 billion ​diversified ​manufacturer ​which is ​publicly traded ​on the Tokyo ​Stock Exchange (​TYO:7011). The ​Company is ​primarily ​involved in ​marine vessels, ​power engines, ​general ​machinery, ​aviation, and ​special ​vehicles. With ​over 80,000 ​employees and ​over 390 group ​companies,​Mitsubishi's ​desalination ​businessmakes ​up a small part ​of the Company'​s overall ​business ​activities. ​


No.18 Aquatech

Founded in ​1981, ​Pittsburgh-​basedAquatechis ​a private ​company with ​more than 600 ​employees and ​offices around ​the globe.​Aquatech claims ​to be one of ​the few ​companies in ​the world ​offering both ​membrane-based ​and thermal ​waterdesalination​ ​technologies. ​The Company has ​a broad ​offering of ​water treatment ​solutions ​targeting ​various ​industries. ​


No.19 Kurita Water Industries

Kuritais a $2.​5 billion water ​treatment ​company that is ​publicly traded ​on the Tokyo ​Stock Exchange (​TYO:6370). The ​company's ​business is ​split about ​equally between ​water treatment ​chemicals and ​water treatment ​facilities. ​Inthis 4-page ​documentdescribing​ ​the company's ​products and ​services, not ​one mention is ​made of ​desalination ​leading us to ​believe that ​this occupies a ​small portion ​of the company'​s business. ​


Who is the Top 10 desalination plants in the world?

The recently awarded Rabigh 3 desalination project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ACWA Power was branded as one of the world’s largest desalination plants.

To put it into perspective, with a capacity of 600,000 m3/day, that’s 600 million litres of water that will eventually be produced per day. There is no doubting at that size, the Saudi mega-size project will be one of the largest out there and the second largest awarded RO desalination plant.

Yet most desalination professionals will know it’s not the largest and it raises the question of well, with over 20,000 desalination plants contracted around the world, which are the largest?

We set out to put together this top ten list.