“Can we make water the new oil?”


The steadily increasing demand for clean water in the world means future-oriented opportunities for Norwegian water expertise and technology, according to the authors. Photo: Colourbox.

By CEO Anita Krohn Traaseth and sector specialist Arne Borgersen, Innovation Norway

Clean water and water treatment is one of our society’s biggest challenges and one of the UN’s recently adopted targets for sustainable global development. This means future-oriented opportunities for Norwegian water expertise and technology.

Water is the world’s most important asset and the basis of life. UN’s latest water report shows that nearly 750 million people have no access to clean drinking water, while about 2.5 billion lack acceptable sanitation.

Climate challenges such as drought and flooding, along with population growth and increasing urbanization, require new solutions in water technology and water treatment.

Population growth and better living standards are a driving force behind the increased need for water. In 2050, the global demand for water is expected to increase by 55 percent. In manufacturing alone, the demand is expected to increase by 400 percent by 2050.

Several of the world’s leading industry players have water as a priority theme, as access and security of supply are important risk factors. This helps to make the global water industry one of the fastest growing industries.

Investing in water

The Norwegian oil fund has already seen the value in companies that have a proper water management.

The fund also increased its investment in water treatment companies, and is the leading sponsor of the global Carbon Disclosure Program’s water program.

The program provides information on companies’ water use and risks related to water scarcity. The aim is to give investors a better understanding of the business risks and opportunities associated with water scarcity and proper water management.

Among the leading

Norway is one of the countries with the most freshwater per capita, and the best water quality. Much of the reason for this is a technologically advanced water industry with skilled professionals.

Besides clean water in the tap, water technology is also about the drainage. Today, a modern plant for wastewater can produce energy and biogas through purification and separation of essential organic nutrients. In this field, Norwegian technology and expertise are in the lead.

The company Salsnes Filter, from Namsos, has had international success with a technological compact solution for recycling, reuse and utilization of by-product in industrial process water.

Cambi, a company from Asker, is a leader in thermal hydrolysis treatment of sludge, a process for conversion of biological material into renewable energy. The company has supplied equipment, among others, in London, Washington DC and Beijing, besides Norway.

Water affects most industries and environmental challenges. Water technology is therefore central in the green shift and the development of a global future-oriented and sustainable bioeconomy.

Learning from the oil adventure

When the Norwegian oil adventure started, there was little Norwegian technology in the industry. During the 40 years that have passed, it has developed a Norwegian oil technology industry which in many areas is world leading.

This is the result of a deliberate policy and focused funding agencies.

Can we now turn water into the new oil? With targeted efforts Norwegian water technology can become an important export with high, sustainable future potential.

Today, the most important Norwegian water-industry actors are organized in two business clusters, which cooperate successfully with Innovation Norway to develop tomorrow’s solutions that will help to reduce energy consumption, recycle water and exploit potential energy in wastewater.

This is good climate in which Norway has opportunities to contribute globally.

The restructuring that is now taking place in the Norwegian economy and business is also a good opportunity for other major Norwegian global players to be involved in lifting an industry with huge potential for wealth creation, exports, employment and revenue.

Water technology is not only sustainable technology at its best; it is not least technology at its most important!

-Translated from Teknisk Ukeblad: «Kan vi gjøre vann til den nye oljen?»


Innovation Norway is responsible for promoting the Norwegian industry abroad. Our office in Rio de Janeiro manages Innovation House Rio, our business incubator office, and helps Norwegian companies in their efforts towards the Brazilian market.

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Posted in Energy & Environment

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