1.1 Definition and scope of study
Globally, the facts are alarming: more than 2 billion people live in countries with high water stress, and nearly 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030. In the face of this global water stress, seawater desalination plants are an excellent alternative, already widely exploited in some countries, particularly those in the Gulf.
On a national scale, groundwater and surface water reserves are still sufficient to water the French population over the year, although some regions may fall below the water stress threshold declared by the UN. Thus, some desalination units have been set up, and others are planned, particularly in the Vendée region. Nevertheless, the costs associated with these plants make the water produced much more expensive, and these plants are therefore only used during peak periods.
On the other hand, French expertise on these seawater desalination issues 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.
Prospects in this market are therefore very optimistic, with the sole exception of environmental considerations, since freshwater production by desalination is very energy-intensive on the one hand, and discharges large quantities of brine and other chemical waste that can disturb the local marine ecosystem on the other.
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