Desalination program to be worth its salt

Updated: 2011-08-19 09:50

(China Daily)

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Desalination program to be worth its salt
Workers inspect seawater desalination equipment at a plant in Tianjin. A lack of key technologies and domestically produced equipment with intellectual property rights are the major challenges facing China's desalination sector.[Photo/China Daily]

NDRC will instigate a Five-Year Plan to improve industry efficiency

BEIJING - China will boost its efforts to ease water shortages by investing about 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in seawater desalination in the coming five years, said an industry expert.

The process is still in its infancy in China, with daily capacity of about 600,000 tons. Twelve ministries have combined to produce guidelines and the National Development and Reform Commission will instigate a Five-Year Plan for the sector, according to a report in the Shanghai Securities News.

"China has paid unprecedented attention to desalination this year," said Guo Youzhi, secretary of the desalination section of the China Water Enterprise Confederation, according to quotes in the newspaper.

Guo predicted that investment in the desalination sector will reach 20 billion yuan in the next five years, with the daily desalination capacity reaching between 2 and 3 million tons.

On July 25, the Ministry of Water Resources initiated a research project to look into the utilization of seawater in China's six major coastal cities and to study advanced desalination practices in other countries, the Shanghai newspaper said.

The research, to be concluded by the end of this year, will pave the way for future policies to incorporate desalination into China's overall water strategy, according to the report.

One of the key challenges facing the desalination sector in China is a lack of key technologies and a dearth of domestically-produced equipment with independent intellectual property rights, said industry insiders.

Nearly 80 percent of installed capacity in China is based on foreign technologies and the country is highly dependent on imports to obtain key equipment, according to quotes in the newspaper from Gao Congjie, a desalination expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

However, that is likely to change during China's 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) as a spate of policies are expected to be formulated to support more research and the production of independent desalination technologies and equipment, according to industry experts.

As a result, many companies whose shares trade on the country's A-share markets are already preparing to enter the desalination business.


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