A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Strengthening the global water supply through a decarbonised global desalination sector and improved irrigation systems

Open Access hybrid publication

Publication Details
Authors: Caldera Upeksha, Breyer Christian
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2020
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Energy
Journal acronym: Energy
Volume number: 200
ISSN: 0360-5442
eISSN: 1873-6785
JUFO-Level of this publication: 3
Open Access: Open Access hybrid publication


This study analyses the role that renewable energy based desalination, in conjunction with improvements in water use efficiency in the irrigation sector, can play towards securing future global water supplies. It is found that the global desalination demand by 2050 can be reduced as much as 30% and 60%, depending on the irrigation efficiency growth rate. India, China, USA, Pakistan and Iran account for between 56% and 62% of the global desalination demand. Decarbonising the desalination sector by 2050, will result in global average levelised cost of water decreasing from about 2.4 €/m3 in 2015, considering unsubsidised fossil fuel costs, to approximately 1.05 €/m3 by 2050, with most regions in the cost range of 0.32 €/m3 – 1.66 €/m3. Low-cost renewable electricity, in particular solar photovoltaics and battery storage, is found to form the backbone of a sustainable and clean global water supply, supported by measures to increase irrigation efficiency. The results show the untapped relationships between the irrigation and decarbonised desalination sector that can be utilised to strengthen the global water supply for the decades to come and meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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Last updated on 2020-05-06 at 08:02