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Water shortages slow energy production worldwide

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New initiative to help countries mitigate impact of water scarcity

January 21, 2014 9:07 by



The World Bank is launching a new initiative at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi that will help developing countries better plan and manage scaling-up energy capacity to meet rising demand, in tandem with water resource management.

Producing energy requires a lot of water, but the availability of and access to water is negatively impacting energy production around the world. Last year alone, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the US and threatened hydropower generation in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil.

The problem is expected only to get worse, according to speakers at the WFES. By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35 per cent, which in turn will increase water consumption by 85 per cent, according to the International Energy Agency.

Part of the challenge for the energy sector is the competing demand for water. This demand will grow as the world’s population reaches nine billion, requiring a 50 per cent increase in agricultural production and a 15 per cent increase in already strained water withdrawals. With two thirds of the world’s population (5 billion people) urbanised by 2030, cities in developing countries will be under tremendous pressure to meet the demand for food, energy and water services. Yet today, approximately 780 million people lack access to improved water and more than one-third of the world’s population (2.5 billion), do not have basic sanitation.

Failing to anticipate water constraints in energy investments can increase risks and costs for energy projects. In fact, the majority of energy and utility companies consider water a substantive risk and report water-related business impacts.

Solutions exist, but countries must continue to innovate and adapt policies and technology to address the complexity of the landscape. These solutions include technological development and adoption, improved operations to reduce water use and impacts in water quality and strong integrated planning.

 

 



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