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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

on a global scale, the facts are alarming: over 2 billion people live in countries where water stress is high, and almost 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030. Faced with this global water stress, seawater desalination plants can be an excellent alternative.

The global market is growing and should continue to grow at a CAGR of 9.4% until 2030. Rapid population growth, accelerated urbanization and increasing water shortages in various parts of the world are expected to drive growing demand for water desalination equipment in the years ahead. The Middle East and Africa dominate the market, accounting for a significant share(50%) of global revenues.

The European market has been expanding in recent years, with 2178 desalination plants in operation in 2024. The vast majority of these(41% ) are in Spain. France ranks 5ᵉ among the European countries with the most desalination plants, with 3% of European installations located in France. On the other hand, on a European scale, France is the country with the largest number of companies supplying desalination equipment. French expertise in seawater desalination is widely recognized worldwide, thanks in particular to two French market leaders. Other young French companies offer innovative technologies and have already demonstrated their know-how abroad.

The outlook for this market is therefore very optimistic, with the sole exception of environmental considerations. s energy-intensive on the one hand, and releases large quantities of brine and other chemical waste that can disrupt the local marine ecosystem on the other.

1.2 A growing global market

The seawater desalination market is estimated to be worth $**.** billion worldwide in ****, with growth forecast at a compound annual growth rate of *. *% over the period ****-****.

Evolution of global seawater desalination market size World, ****-****, in billions of dollars

Factors such as accelerated population growth , rapid urbanization and growing water scarcity ...

1.3 A European market dominated by certain countries

Desalination is a fast-growing sector with significant potential. In the European Union, a relatively modest proportion of fresh water is currently obtained by desalinating seawater. Historically, desalination in Europe developed mainly in response to local water shortages in the early ****s, with the installation of small-scale plants to supply drinking water ...

1.4 French market

The domestic desalination market is difficult to assess, as demand from local authorities is still low. As a first step, therefore, it is interesting to analyze the market more broadly, using data compiled by INSEE under NAF code **.**Z: "Collection, treatment and distribution of water", which covers rainwater and river water ...

1.5 Summary of market drivers

The table below summarizes the various determinants of water desalination management activities. The evolution given is a trend predicted or assumed for the near future.

2 Demand analysis

2.1 How the French perceive water access issues

Responses to the question "Do you think water is a limited resource in France?" France, ****-****, %

The graph above shows a significant and continuous increase in the proportion of the French population who perceive water as a limited resource. This trend, observed over the entire period studied, indicates a growing awareness ...

2.2 Water stress worldwide and in France

A very simple indicator of water scarcity on a national scale is the amount of renewable freshwater per person. Water stress begins when a country's available water falls below *,*** m*/year per person. When the threshold of *,*** m*/year is crossed, water scarcity is felt. Absolute water scarcity is envisaged for ...

2.3 Freshwater consumption in France

Freshwater abstraction by use France, ****, %, France, ****, %, France, %, France, %, France, %, France, % Source: Statistical data and studies In ****, the breakdown of freshwater withdrawals in France showed a clear predominance of uses linked to power plant cooling, which accounted for **. *% of total withdrawals. This dominance reflects the crucial importance of water in the energy ...

3 Market structure

3.1 A few orders of magnitude of French potential

France has ***** km of coastline, including its overseas territories, making it the *th longest country in the world. Some *,*** communes are located on the French coast or within coastal cantons. [***] Counting only metropolitan France and Corsica, the total coastline is *,*** km.

The exclusive economic zone is defined as a stretch of ...

3.2 Desalination process

There are three main families of seawater desalination techniques. It should be noted that the average salt level in the oceans varies between ** and ** grams per liter.


Distillation is probably the oldest and best-known seawater desalination technique. It consists of a first evaporation stage, to separate salts and other minerals ...

3.3 Environmental considerations

Seawater desalination, while a highly attractive solution to drinking water shortages, presents a number of environmental challenges.

Current techniques are energy-intensive and often powered by fossil fuels, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Water abstraction and discharge methods can disrupt marine ecosystems, damage flora and fauna, and lead to excessive salinization of ...

3.4 Veolia and Suez, the two French leaders

Among the leaders in the seawater desalination market are the two French water management giants, Veolia and Suez.

Veolia Water Technologies

With a combined treatment capacity of some ** million m* of water per day at over *,*** sites worldwide in *** countries, Veolia is the world leader in desalination.

The company's new water ...

3.5 Freshwater distribution in France

throughout France, a network of over ***,*** kilometers of pipes, along with thousands of structures, ensures the daily supply of drinking water to ** million people. These infrastructures, combined with those for wastewater and stormwater treatment, represent on average **% of the assets of local authorities [***]

The management of these public services and their ...

3.6 The government's Water Plan

In April ****, France launched the Water Plan for sober and resilient management of water resources, aimed at addressing the growing challenges of water scarcity and climate change. The plan comprises ** measures, ** of which have already been initiated and ** finalized. With projections indicating a reduction of up to **% in summer river flows ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Freshwater prices in France

A low average price compared with the European Union

A cubic metre of water costs an average of €*.** in mainland France, including charges and taxes. The order of magnitude for a French family consuming an average of ***m* (***) is to spend an average of €* per day on public water and wastewater ...

4.2 Cost of a seawater desalination plant

The cost of a desalination plant depends largely on the technology used: it averages €*/m* for distillation plants, €*/m* for electrodialysis technology and around €*/m* for reverse osmosis (***). [***]

With reverse osmosis, the water is so pure that it has to be remineralized, which entails additional costs. Finally, there are distribution costs ...

4.3 Start-ups and new technologies

A number of young French companies have made their mark in the seawater desalination sector in recent years. The following is a selection of the main start-ups that have developed rapidly.


Winner of the Félix award in ****, the start-up is committed to offering low-cost solutions for developing countries. To ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Regulatory framework for the withdrawal of seawater for human consumption

To extract seawater for human consumption, several authorizations and files are required prior to the operational phase. [***]

First, a withdrawal authorization issued by the prefect. The application file must include the following information:

A presentation of the qualitative and quantitative status of available freshwater resources and their evolution A presentation of ...

5.2 Water quality standards

The reference articles concerning the quality of distributed water are mainly to be found in articles R. ****-*, R. ****-*, R. ****-* and R. ****-** of the French Public Health Code.

Water "fit for human consumption" must meet around ** quality criteria , divided into quality limits and quality references. [***] These potability standards ...

5.3 The NOTRe law

The NOTRe law, promulgated on August *, ****, represents a major pivot in French territorial organization by entrusting new powers to the regions and redefining those assigned to local authorities. As the third component of the territorial reforms following the law on territorial public action and metropolises and the reorganization of the regions ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Segmentation

  • Dow Chemical
  • Doosan
  • Circulair
  • Sweetch Energy
  • Mascara Renewable Water
  • Suez Groupe
  • Véolia Groupe

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Change in the number of employees registered under "3600Z Water collection, treatment and distribution"
  • Change in the number of companies registered under "3600Z Water collection, treatment and distribution"
  • Desalination market trends
  • Trends in the size of the global seawater desalination market
  • Breakdown of global revenues in the seawater desalination market
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Latest news

Battery recycling: Suez hopes to supply China's Envision gigafactory in Douai - 08/05/2024
  • Creation of France's first zero-emission battery industrial park.
  • Construction of a battery gigafactory with a capacity of 9 gigawatt-hours, representing an investment of 2 billion euros and the creation of 2,500 jobs by 2030.
  • In partnership with Eramet, Suez will develop a complex to recycle batteries and extract essential metals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel.
  • The battery recycling plant should be operational by 2027.
  • Suez sales in China: one billion euros.
  • Suez workforce: 40,000 people in 40 countries.
  • Global Suez sales in 2023: 9 billion euros.
Dow France wants to combine waterproofing and recycling - 29/04/2024
  • ** Dow France is building a new production unit in Lauterbourg (Bas-Rhin) to manufacture an innovative component for the recyclability of food papers.
  • - ** The new unit will create around 20 new jobs, in addition to the 250 employees currently working at the site.
  • - **Target market:** Europe, with a particular focus on the German packaging paper industry. Food packaging and paper cups are the main target markets.
  • - ** Dow France recorded sales of €692.6 million in 2022.
Veolia's plan for growth in energy - 13/01/2024
  • The group already generates a quarter of its sales (just over 10 billion out of almost 43 billion euros in 2022) from the operation of heating networks, the recovery of energy from waste and wastewater, and energy-related services.
  • The Group, which has positioned itself in the field of "decarbonizing local energy", estimates that it will be worth 500 billion euros in Europe by 2030
  • Services related to energy efficiency in buildings and industry could represent a market worth 200 billion euros by 2030
  • Green energy supply and heating/cooling networks could be worth 150 billion euros by 2030.
  • The operation of heating networks is Veolia's main energy business (revenues of 5.9 billion euros in 2022),
  • Veolia operates more than 500 networks.
Veolia to sell its engineering subsidiary SADE - 27/11/2023
  • SADE's annual sales are expected to reach around 1.1 billion euros in 2022.
  • SADE employs around 6900 people.
Citeo and Suez start up France's second plastic packaging sorting facility - 28/10/2023
  • The Suez group and Citeo have invested 19 million euros in the conversion of a plastic packaging sorting platform.
  • 15 million euros were injected by Citeo and 4 million by the Suez group
  • The extension of sorting rules to all household packaging has been mandatory in France since January 1, 2023.
  • The over-sorting center in Epinal is designed to sort four main types of plastic: colored PET, opaque PET, PET trays and polystyrene.
  • 25,000 tonnes of plastic, mainly from the eastern part of France, should be over-sorted each year in Epinal.
  • The Epinal site is the second over-sorting center to be built in France, after Bourgogne Recyclage and before Environnement Massif Central, which is due to open in mid-2024.
  • The recycled plastics leaving the Epinal center will be recycled in France or in neighboring countries.
  • Starting in 2025, Carbios will process multilayer PET trays at its future Longlaville plant.
Veolia aims to triple recycled water production worldwide - 03/07/2023
  • Veolia is committed to tripling its production of recycled water by 2030, bringing it to 3 billion m3 in the long term.
  • The group produced 1 billion m3 of recycled water last year, equivalent to the annual consumption of 18 million people.
  • Veolia has 250 water recycling sites in 18 countries.
  • Worldwide water recycling is estimated at just 11%.
  • Wastewater reuse rates reach 89% in Israel, 40% in Singapore, 15% in Spain and less than 1% in France.
  • The potential for wastewater reuse in France is 1.6 billion m3.
  • Veolia acquired additional expertise in membrane filtration through its takeover bid for the Suez group.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Dow Chemical
Sweetch Energy
Mascara Renewable Water
Suez Groupe
Véolia Groupe

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