DUBAI, 14th April, 2017 (WAM) -- Technological innovation, improved efficiencies, and supportive policies will shape the Middle East's water sector, as concerns of water scarcity intensify across the globe, a new report said.

Overall, the Middle East water solutions market is set for strong growth, with the six member states of the Nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, GCC, having nearly $42 billion worth of water and wastewater projects in the study and design phase in the next 10 years, noted a recent white paper titled "Soaring Demand for Water in the Middle East" from Global consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan.

Commercialisation of new concepts for desalination, including forward osmosis, membrane distillation, tri-hybrid applications using nano-filtration, and low-temperature distillation, is increasing.

The planned plant capacities of reverse osmosis (RO) for the GCC are increasing every quarter and improving economies of scale. About $17 billion worth of desalination plant projects are in the offing in the next 10 years, according to the paper.

Governments and policymakers have already begun measures to promote efficient water usage, it added.

GCC countries consume an average 816 cubic metres of water per person per year, which is 65 per cent more than the world average. At the same time, the region is widely recognised for being the vanguard of new technology adoption, deploying thermal desalination, reverse osmosis membrane desalination, and eco-friendly, solar-powered desalination plants for generating potable and process water.

"The Middle East has shifted gears swiftly to address the water demand-supply gap and change its path of economic growth to incorporate sustainability," noted Frost & Sullivan programme manager, Energy and Environment, Kshitij Nilkanth.

"Like other parts of the globe, the GCC is looking to desalination and wastewater reuse and recycling to bridge the supply-demand gap. GCC must have balanced focus towards reducing water consumption and increasing recycled water usage, as well as incorporating advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies."

GCC countries will also aim to lower loss from non-revenue water (NRW) in order to strengthen water security. For instance, NRW rates in Europe range between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the water produced, while those in the Middle East range between 13 per cent and 35 per cent. Renewing infrastructure and increasing accountability will help address this issue.

The strong political will of governments in the GCC, to tide over the water scarcity issue and promote economic growth, will continue to expand growth opportunities for water and wastewater technology and solutions providers, noted Nilkanth. "For instance, water has traditionally been heavily subsidised in Arab countries. However, this is changing with new and revised water tariffs and slabs announced by Abu Dhabi, which is likely to begin a trend of sustainable consumption in the region."

Such hikes in tariffs can spur research and development and commercialisation of smart metres and smart water grids. Rise in electricity tariffs would mean that desalination water plants will be under pressure to reduce energy consumption by resorting to energy-saving devices or shifting to energy-efficient pumps.

Source: Emirates News Agency