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Official from NDRC Answers Reporter's Question on the Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Accelerating the Development of Seawater Desalinization Industry

The General Office of the State Council issued Opinions on Accelerating the Development of Seawater Desalinization Industry recently to facilitate the development of the industry and ease the increasingly severe water shortage in coastal areas and islands. The reporter interviewed related official from NDRC to learn about the detailed background and connotation of the document.
Q: What is seawater desalinization and what can desalinized water be used for?
A: Seawater desalinization is a process from which freshwater is extracted from seawater and concentrated seawater is used to make salt and extract such elements as potassium, bromine and magnesium. Desalinized water can be used in production, domestic and ecological purpose. Currently it is mainly used in industrial and domestic areas. Its industrial use includes boiler feed-water and for certain production process which is seen in the large-scale application in electric power, metallurgical and chemical industries. In domestic area, the water is used for drinking water in coastal areas and islands and also as a major supplement of municipal water supply.
Q: What is the situation of China’s seawater desalinization industry?
A: China started R & D of seawater desalinization in 1950s and the industry saw rapid development in the 11th Five-Year Plan period where demonstration of such projects was launched. In 2005, the industry was promoted as the government issued a Special Plan for Seawater Use. By the end of 2011, China’s capacity for seawater desalinization reached 660,000 m3/d, more than 13 times as much as 50,000 m3/d in 2005. With years of research and project demonstration, we have made great breakthrough in the mainstream technologies such reverse osmosis and low temperature multi-effect distillation. We have been able to build complete desalinization sets for seawater above 10,000 tons and developed our own low temperature multi-effect distillation equipment with 12,500 m3/d and 10,000 m3/d reverse osmosis equipment. The main technical and economic indicators are close to or up to international standard.
But on the whole, there are only a few key technologies and equipment whose intellectual properties are claimed by us. Our capability of making complete sets of equipment and components is weak and the size of application is small. Despite unbalanced development of the industry, the conditions and foundation for all-round and fast development are ripe.
Q:Please introduce China’s situation of water resources the significance of developing seawater desalinization.
A: China’s per capita water resource is about 2,100 m3, only 28% of world’s average. Currently, two thirds of its cities face water shortage and one fourth struggle with severe water scarcity. Lack of water resources has become one of the major factors restraining China’s social and economic sustainable development. As industrialization continues to speed up, the situation of water shortage will be even grave.
Seawater desalinization is one of the most important measures to ease water problems. It is also the major strategic emerging industry and a big part for the development of marine economy. To develop seawater desalinization embodies important strategic and realistic significance. At present, over 200 million people worldwide find solution to their drinking water problems through desalinization. Desalinized seawater has become one of the major water sources of the gulf countries.
Q: What is the general thought on developing the industry of seawater desalinization and how is the industry positioned strategically?
A: The general thought for developing seawater desalinization lies in the method combining government guidance and market demand and combining desalinization and comprehensive utilization of resources. We must make overall plans and strengthen R & D, stress pilot programs, improve policies and standards and enhance supervision. In doing so, we will promote sound and fast development of the industry, achieving a win-win deal for economic development and environmental protection and making contributions to safeguarding the country’s water resources.
The strategic position of the industry is that it serves as important replenishment of water resources and strategic reserves. Seawater desalinization provides the chance of increasing water resources. It is also a strategic move to address water crisis, maintain sustained use of water resources and improve the security of water supply under extreme conditions.
Q: What is the objective for the development of seawater desalinization industry in the 12th Five-Year Plan period?
A: By 2015, China’s capacity for seawater desalinization will reach 2.2 million -2.6 million m3/d, contributing more than 50% to added water supply to islands and 15% plus to added supply of industrial water in coastal areas. Over 70% of raw materials and equipment for desalinization will be made on our own. We will establish an industrial chain on seawater desalinization and our key technologies, capability of making equipment, R & D of materials will be up to international standard.
Q: What are the key tasks for developing seawater desalinization industry?
A: First, we will strengthen R & D of key technologies and equipment, improve our ability of making research and producing key equipment and complete sets of equipment and the level of technology integration. Second, we will strengthen system integration and upgrade engineering technology of the industry concerning design, manufacturing, construction and application. Third, we will establish bases for seawater desalinization industry, promote regional clusters of such elements as research and design, equipment manufacturing and engineering application and cultivate a group of manufacturing, design and construction companies competitive at the international market. Fourth, we will form industrial alliance so as to put scattered resources and abilities together and build synergy for market competition and create a complete industrial chain. Fifth, we will carry out demonstration projects on seawater desalinization to drive industrial development and accumulate experience in operation and management. Sixth, we will build model cities, industrial parks and islands for seawater desalinization and encourage coastal areas to use desalinized water first. Seventh, we will promote the use of desalinized water and allow desalinized water to be supplied through municipal water networks so long as the water quality meets various indicators and human health is guaranteed. Eighth, we will improve the standard systems for seawater desalinization and guide and regulate the development of the industry.
Q: What measures will be taken to develop seawater desalinization industry?
A: First, we will give more support to the industry through financial and taxation policies and increase investment in it. Second, we will carry out favorable financial and pricing policies to promote accelerated development of the industry. Third, we will improve laws and regulations, identify the strategic positioning of seawater desalinization, guide and regulate the industry from various perspectives such as resource exploitation, environmental protection, safe supply and industrial development. Fourth, we will step up supervision and management to ensure the safety of water supply. Fifth, effort will be made to disseminate the knowledge on seawater desalinization to make the society fully understand the significance of seawater desalinization. The development of seawater desalinization industry is a systematic engineering. We will establish an inter-ministerial coordination mechanism led by NDRC, and joined by Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Health, State Administration of Taxation, General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, National Energy Administration and State Oceanic Administration. NDRC is responsible for overall coordination and guidance and other departments are delegated with different tasks. By strengthening coordination and playing the role of different departments, we will promote healthy and fast development of seawater desalinization industry.


(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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