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In recent years, numerous large-scale seawater desalination plants have been built in water-stressed countries to augment available water resources, and construction of new desalination plants is expected to increase in the near future. Despite major advancements in desalination technologies, seawater desalination is still more energy intensive compared to conventional technologies for the treatment of fresh water. There are also concerns about the potential environmental impacts of large-scale seawater desalination plants. Here, we review the possible reductions in energy demand by state-of-the-art seawater desalination technologies, the potential role of advanced materials and innovative technologies in improving performance, and the sustainability of desalination as a technological solution to global water shortages.