The high interdependence of water and power could soon lead to shortages and escalating costs for both.
It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the world in which we live, water needs power and power needs water. On the one hand, in fact, power is required to move and to clean water as well as to create it from brine through the desalination process, as has been shown, for example, by the construction of a desalination plant in San Diego to provide 7% of the city’s water, which will require about 38 megawatts of power – enough for more than 28,000 homes. On the other hand, water is required for hydropower, for oil, natural gas and coal extraction and for cooling power plants.
Resource managers and environmental advocates are warning that – as populations grow and climate change and droughts are starting to seriously impact our world – this close interdependency could give rise to a negative feedback loop in protecting the environment and the impacts to the economy. According to the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research centre based in Oakland (California), this situation is the result of the spread of wrong assumptions about the abundance of water and power over the last century, which led to a reckless exploitation of these resources.
Consequently, the concerns of those who fear that the link between water and energy could lead to shortages and higher costs of both are real and relevant. On this matter, two developments occurred in the last five years offer good and bad news: good news come from the rollout of renewable energies, which need little amounts of water; bad news, on the other hand, come from the fracking revolution, which caused the release of huge amounts of chemically infused water underground at high pressure. Also, even leaving aside the issues related to water pollution, fracking a single well requires 1.5 million to 5.7 million gallons of water.
The goal now should be to use both power and energy as sparingly as possible, while ongoing researches are being carried out to find a way to rethink their use.
The gLAWcal Team
Thursday, 23 April 2015
(Source: New York Times International)