World Water Week - how renewable energy can ease water stress

30 August 2018

This week sees World Water Week, which this year has the theme “Water, Ecosystems and Human Development”. Following months of weather extremes around the globe including droughts, wildfires and crop shortfalls in Europe, a major World Water Week conference in Stockholm is taking place at a time of heightened awareness for the role of climate change within the nexus of water and development. Water is fundamental for food security, human health, energy production, industrial productivity, and biodiversity. Because of this, the main opening event was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who highlighted the holistic approach of the event. The UN Deputy Secretary-General reminded the audience that water is crucial for achieving almost every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and that sustainable water management also plays a central role on the way to achieving the Paris Climate Change Agreement. “This is what the Sustainable Development Goals are about: Bringing this conceptual paradigm shift of doing things together and not in silos,” she said. Countries have identified water as a key to building resilience to climate change in 93% of their national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement. Climate Change is meanwhile putting pressure on freshwater resources in all regions of the world, thereby affecting people’s food security and health. Dwindling fresh water resources also put a further question mark over the future of highly water-intensive forms of power production, notably through coal. A recent study by the World Resources Institute and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – Water use in India’s power generation: Impact of renewables and cooling technologies to 2030 – indicates the role that renewable energy can play in easing the water stress for affected countries. Using the case of India, the authors show how improved power plant cooling technologies and less freshwater-intensive power generation like solar and wind can bring down water withdrawal in the energy sector up to 84% (excluding hydropower). Based on several different scenarios analyzed in the study, the authors conclude that “the growth in power sector emissions is projected to decrease across all scenarios analyzed, thereby helping India to meet its international and national climate commitments.” Original source: UNFCCC Published on 28 August 2018

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