The gap between the supply of freshwater and demand for water for industrial, agricultural, and domestic use is growing at a rapid pace, according to a report by Pike Research. At the same time, Pike says the cost of desalination has come down steadily, making it a more affordable means of meeting the world’s growing freshwater needs. Pike expects the merging of these two factors to contribute to strong growth in the desalination technology market over the next several years, driving desalination investment from $8.3 billion in 2010 to $16.6 billion per year by 2016.

“The desalination plant supplier market is highly fragmented, despite a great deal of mergers and acquisitions activity during the last decade,” says Pike Research managing director Clint Wheelock. “The top five suppliers captured only 25 percent of the market from 2007 to 2009. And as reverse osmosis (RO) is increasingly adopted as the major desalination technology, the barriers to entry are being lowered.”

In contrast, however, Wheelock notes that the market for key desalination components is far more concentrated. For example, he says more than 65 percent of the market for RO membranes is controlled by three large players. The markets for high-pressure pumps and energy recovery devices are also quite concentrated. Pike Research’s analysis indicates these competitive dynamics will be critically important as the stakes continue to increase in the rapidly growing global desalination market.

Pike Research anticipates that the Middle East/North Africa region will continue to be the global hub of desalination plant construction, but there will be significant growth opportunities in other parts of the world as well. The firm forecasts that, in 2016, the top five markets in terms of installed capacity will be Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, China, and Israel. Worldwide desalination capacity will reach 126 million cubic meters per day by 2016, up from 76 million in 2010, according to Pike.

Pike Research’s study, “Desalination Technology Markets”, analyzes emerging technologies and market opportunities in the global desalination industry. It explores a variety of market growth drivers including dwindling water resources, population, pollution, and falling desalination system costs. Key industry players are profiled and country-level market forecasts are provided for key global markets through 2016.

To download a free Executive Summary of the report, click here (registration required).