Chris Baraniuk is a technology of business reporter.

A sign warns visitors of the droughts effect at Hemenway Harbor, Lake Mead, Nevada Monday, June 28, 2021.Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Water scarcity is likely to be a growing problem

According to the United Nations, there are communities all over the world that don't have enough water.

Only 2.5% of Earth's water is fresh, and demand for drinking water is expected to exceed supply by the year 2030.

Fresh water could be supplied by desalination plants.

These plants are considered to be one of the most expensive ways of creating drinking water as they use a lot of energy.

There is a possibility of using floating vessels with desalinated water.

These vessels can travel to islands and coastlines with clean drinking water and power.

Core Power, which came up with the design for this type of plant, says it could have them moving around on an intermittent basis.

The US Navy has provided desalination services during disasters in the past, with the help of its nuclear-powered ships, while Russia already has a floating nuclear power station.

Almost all of the desalination plants are on land. The majority of the world's population is located in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, with others in the UK, China, the US, Brazil, South Africa and Australia.

It could be cheaper to place the technology offshore, where the water can be pumped more easily.

Nuclear desalination plant large designImage source, Core Power
Image caption, Core Power is developing offshore desalination plants running on nuclear power

Engineers have wanted to build nuclear powered desalination systems for a long time.

Core Power wants to use a vessel that's similar to a small container ship, but with containers on board filled with desalinated water. The nuclear reactor would be located at the heart of the vessel.

Mr Be says that the firm's floating nuclear desalination vessels could produce up to 70 kilowatts of power. It could pump out 35,000 cubic metres of freshwater every day.

Desalination technology pushes treated seawater across a semi-permeable barrier. Osmosis removes minerals from the water and leaves a salty brine.

The technology has become more efficient over time. It's relatively rare to have a floating desalination system.

The largest ever built desalination barges have just been delivered to Saudi Arabia. Can floating plants take off?

A view of a desalination plant in the Omani port city of Sur, south of the capital MuscatImage source, Getty Images
Image caption, Floating plants could be cheaper than onshore plants which have to pump seawater significant distances

A system called Waterfountain was developed by Oisann.

The company has different designs, but they all work on the same principle, according to the chief administrative officer.

Instead of using nuclear power, they would all use a technology called Subsea Desalination, which is decades old.

The technology wasn't commercialised because you still need subsea pumps to take the water to the surface. We got rid of the pump.

The Waterfountain system as a whole takes advantage of the higher pressure on the seafloor to move water around without paying high energy costs.

He mentioned that the water's flow could be further aided by raising the water's line from the vessel to the shore.

The technology could be 30% more energy efficient than a traditional desalination facility according to Mr.Hopkins. A miniature version of one of the designs is being built by the firm and it hopes to have a commercial installation in the Philippines in 2023.

Illustration of Water Fountain's bouyImage source, Water Fountain
Image caption, Water Fountain plans offshore buoys that utilise high pressure on the sea bed

Raya Al-Dadah is the head of the sustainable energy technology laboratory at the University ofBirmingham. There are both advantages and disadvantages to floating desalination. Finding a workforce with both offshore experience and Desalination expertise is still a challenge.

According to Dr Al-Dadah, if the world experiences more than 1.5C of warming, humanity needs more water resources. She says that this will have a big impact on water.

Smaller, floating desalination systems may help reduce the environmental impact of the technology. Today's desalination facilities produce huge quantities of highly salty water that is toxic to marine life.

The waterfountain system's byproduct won't be salty enough to be classified as brine.

According to Greg Pierce, co-director of the University of California Los Angeles Luskin Center for Innovation, floating desalination systems could be used for disaster relief.

He says that the standard approach to relief efforts is inefficient. I'm all for floating desalination addressing that.

Dr Pierce wonders if it can be made cost-effective enough in other contexts to secure clean water supplies. About 40% of the water currently consumed in the state could be saved with better water saving measures.

Measures such as water recycling are likely to be used by communities. Desalination, no matter the cost, will look inevitable in some parts of the world if this still isn't enough.

Core Power's design is simply that. Mr Be wants the firm to have a commercial system in place within a decade. He says the need will be there.