Abstract Despite its abundant water resources, Brazil faces water distribution problems, since the population is concentrated mainly in areas with less water availability. This fact combined with the impacts of climate change has intensified problems related to the country's water crisis in recent years. Desalination has emerged as a promising technology to meet freshwater demands. However, the desalination in Brazil is still incipient, with its expansion being linked to technical, economic, and political issues. The desalted water price, technological development, tax incentives, and other variables affect the growth of this sector. In this study, the scenario planning method is used to model these uncertainties and to formulate alternative scenarios for the development of desalination in Brazil by 2050. The study shows four possible futures for the Brazilian desalination industry: the weakening of the sector due mainly to the high costs of desalted water production (Scenario 3), the full development of the industry with desalination plants in the main cities, meeting the water demand of the population (Scenario 4), the moderate growth of this industry that will serve the population in drought periods (Scenario 2), and, Scenario 1 which describes a continuation of current trends, with desalination units only in remote regions.

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