In the wake of rapid population growth coupled with climate change and environmental degradation, countries around the world face increasing uncertainty in their ability to provide ample, safe and sustainable potable water. To meet this uncertainty, seawater desalination has been advanced around the world as a reliable new supply that improves water quality, aquifer restoration, water security and is essentially insensitive to climate change. Not only are the number of facilities increasing, but the size of the facilities is also increasing in order to take advantage of economies of scale. This paper analyzes the emerging trend of extra-large-capacity (XL) seawater desalination facilities by examining the rate of their global diffusion and the variables that influence this rate. These variables are explored quantitatively using logistic regression. In addition, selected country case studies provide insight into the factors that drive the adoption of XL desalination. They indicate that the decision to embark on XL desalination is largely determined by internal political factors. Specifically, XL desalination is advanced when the political costs of alternative water management strategies are high.

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