(Asian Water Magazine: April 2014)
An array of opportunities exists to co-produce energy and water services and to exploit the benefits of synergies. However, the current political and economic incentive system favors independent sectoral outcomes over cross sectional results. Sustainable solutions require a systems approach of integrated solutions rather than addressing issues in isolation.
Water and energy issues should be addressed holistically, as the optimal solution for one can have negative impacts on the other. Such common solutions can be achieved only if there is communication between sectors, and if the right incentives are in place. In addition to new technical solutions, new political and economic frameworks need to be designed to promote cooperation among sectors and integrated planning.
For example, given the different uses of dams, hydropower sustainability can be improved through integrated water and energy planning and management. Most thermal power plants require large amount of water to dissipate the excess produced heat (“waste heat”) to the environment. Therefore, the siting of power plants should take into account their interaction with water resources, water facilities and other sectors that compete for water supplies. There are also ways to utilize waste heat and thus decrease the amount of water needed for cooling as explained in the examples below.
Wastewater treatment plants can generate energy from sludge produced at the plant. Another opportunity to mitigate nexus trade offs is to improve water and energy efficiency and conservation. Improving efficiency in the water domain saves energy for treatment and supply and therefore reduces the amount of water needed by the power sector. When the power sector shifts towards a more efficient operation, less water is used as less waste heat will have to be dissipated.
Thus, policies and integrated plans that encourage energy and water conservation can reduce future energy and water requirements.
see full article at www.asianwater.com.my/