Thursday, September 22, 2011

No. 82: Water business in Japan and the world (1) (September 22, 2011)

“Water business in Japan and the world” is based on articles in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. The administrator will upload articles as frequently as possible, and the series is scheduled to be made up of about 30 articles.

World trend of the water business
Water is indispensable to all lives on the earth. Of course, it is one of the most important resources for the development of human’s social and economic activities. It is estimated that 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water exists on the earth. However, we can use only 0.01% of the 1.4 billion cubic kilometers for our activities. In addition, water is not evenly distributed among regions on the earth. For example, Latin American has 31% share of world’s freshwater resources, and it has 12 times bigger per-capita water amount than South Asia.

Currently, about 70% of water taken from rivers is for agricultural water, 20% is for industrial water, and 10% for daily life water. Water consumption is expected to grow about 30% in 2025 as compared with the consumption in 2000 because of population increase, economic growth, and change of lifestyle. Accordingly, there will be an increasing number of areas where water supply cannot satisfy water demand. At the same time, water pollution is growing serious because of an increasing amount of human sewage and plant effluent. 

Under the current circumstances, countries and companies of the world started to show a deep interest in the water business that diversifies into various industrial sectors including supply, desalination, sewage treatment, and utilization of treated water. In fact, the water business is already a huge business field, but it is expected to grow even bigger in the future. The Japanese government wishes Japanese water-related companies to grow business domestically and globally, and various research projects are under way. It is an urgent task for Japan to restructure the water business to solve such problems as huge investment requirements and technology to be inherited for further grown both in the domestic and global markets. (To be continued)

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