The most effective technologies for addressing growing global water and energy interdependence — known as the water-energy nexus — are based on reduce, recycle, and recovery and zero-water/zero-energy, according to new research from analyst firm Frost & Sullivan.
The report, Technology Convergence Resolving Water-Energy Challenges, identifies six types of technology that contribute to solving the water-energy challenge: renewables-based desalination, wastewater treatment and recovery, hydraulic fracturing, thermal power, water efficiency and energy efficiency.
Climate change, population growth, and lifestyle changes are major factors aggravating the water-energy crisis beyond the control of stakeholders, Frost & Sullivan says. Increased shale gas explorations, biofuels production, hydraulic fracturing, and water trade have further exacerbated the water-energy challenge.
The analyst firm says renewables-based desalination has the most impact on the water-energy industry and the widest scope for adoption because it relies on renewable energy for desalinated water generation and negates dependence on fossil fuel or water intensive energy. This has immense potential in regions such as the U.S., Middle East and China.
But there is still room for improvement of water-independent renewable energy technologies like solar photovoltaic and wind power — these will likely see widespread adoption in the long-term. Alternatively, heat pumps and water efficiency technologies are likely to witness higher uptake in the near future.
The creation of databases, analyses and future scenarios projections of water and energy are of extreme importance, Frost & Sullivan says. Universities and research agencies will play a key role in monitoring the situation and providing futuristic, long-term solutions.
In California this week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the "Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program," a measure that will give millions of California residents and businesses the chance to participate in a utility clean energy program for the first time. In addition, carbon capture technologies such as those offered by Global Thermostat could offer a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traditional fossil-fuel plants and reinvesting the savings into renewable energy development.