18 April 2014 | Reading 4 mins.

Introducing Thirsty Energy

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Diego J. Rodriguez
Senior Economist, Water Unit

Diego J. Rodriguez, Senior Economist, Water Unit

Water and energy are inextricably linked. Water is fundamental to nearly all energy processes, while energy is required to treat, transport and extract water. Despite their interdependency and critical role in our lives and sustainable development, countries and governments worldwide continue to struggle to integrate energy and water into planning and investment decisions.

Two thirds of California is experiencing an extreme drought and nearly 99% of its territory is considered abnormally dry. This is worrying power operators throughout the state as they strive to meet demand, allocate water to urban areas and to other competing uses, such as agriculture. Globally, in 2013 alone, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the United States and threatened hydropower generation in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil.

Countries and governments worldwide continue to struggle to integrate energy and water into planning and investment decisions.

In 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) dedicated a chapter in its World Energy Outlook to water and energy, recognizing the importance of this resource to the energy sector. Many companies already recognize the magnitude of water and energy challenges: The CDP’s Global Water Report 2013 found that over 80% of energy companies and more than 70% of power utility companies indicate that water is a substantive risk to business operations. Almost 60% of energy companies and over 60% of power utility companies indicate that they have already experienced water-related business impacts in the past five years. While these recognitions are important, action on the ground in many countries to address these issues has been slow to materialize.

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