Michele Wucker, President of the World Policy Institute, and Diana Glassman, a consultant to EBG Capital, joined the New America Foundation in a discussion of the water-energy nexus as they presented their latest analysis on water expenditure, consumption and withdrawal in the process of energy production.
The Water-Energy Nexus represents a critical business, security, and environmental issue, but has not yet received the attention that it merits. Energy production consumes significant amounts of water, fully 20% of the water not used by agriculture. Some forms of energy production are less efficient than others, for example biofuels consume a much larger amount of water than natural gas. Similarly, coal results in twice the water expenditure of natural gas or thermoelectric energy. The evolution of both traditional and renewable energy production toward potentially more water-intensive technologies risks intensifying the demands on water resources. Newer technologies are being developed to reduce water consumption; however, they are generally expensive, can reduce efficiency, and will need time before they can be commercially available at scale. Now--as energy policies are being considered around the world--is the window of opportunity to include water on the agenda alongside cost, carbon, and security considerations.