The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a new report that presents an integrated challenge and opportunity around the water-energy nexus for DOE and its partners, and lays the foundation for future efforts.
Present day water and energy systems are closely intertwined. Water is used in all phases of energy production and electricity generation. Energy is required to extract and deliver clean water for a broad spectrum of human uses.
Recent developments have focused national attention on the connection between water and energy production. When severe drought affected more than a third of the United States in 2012, limited water availability strained power plant operations and other energy production facilities. Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the compounding ramifications of power loss to vital water infrastructures. The recent boom in domestic unconventional oil and gas development has further complicated the national dialogue on the relationship between energy and water resources.
A DOE Report entitled The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenge and Opportunities examines the technical and operational challenges of the water-energy nexus on a local, regional, and national scale. The report notes that water scarcity, variability, and uncertainty are becoming more prominent, potentially leading to vulnerabilities in the U.S. energy system. System evolution brought on by climate change, population growth, technological advances, and policy developments are increasing the urgency for informed action.
“DOE can bring its strong science, technology, and analytic capabilities to bear to help the nation move to more resilient energy-water systems,” DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “This report provides a foundation for future DOE action in response to the challenges before us.”The report identifies six strategic pillars that will serve as the foundation for coordinating research and development:
- Optimize the freshwater efficiency of energy production, electricity generation, and end use systems
- Optimize the energy efficiency of water management, treatment, distribution, and end use system
- Enhance the reliability and resilience of energy and water systems
- Increase safe and productive use of nontraditional water sources
- Promote responsible energy operations with respect to water quality, ecosystem, and seismic impacts
- Exploit productive synergies among water and energy systems
To pursue next steps, DOE will work with partners, including other federal agencies, state and local governments, foreign governments, private industry, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and citizens. The full report is available on Energy.gov HERE, and an infographic on the water-energy nexus is available HERE.