The Nexus of Water and Energy: Cleantech Innovation Can Help Preserve the Balance Between Diminishing Resources
The intricate connection between water and energy has become threatened in recent years by the rapid depletion of both essential resources. But due to Israel’s work in developing water-conservation technologies and ever-increasing use of alternative energy sources, water and energy consumption as we know it can continue to flourish. This year’s upcoming WATEC Israel 2011 will shine a timely light on the Water & Energy Nexus that is proving to be a topic worth discussion.
Houston, TX (PRWEB) August 09, 2011
Water and energy are two of the most important substances on Earth and are symbiotically intertwined. This year’s upcoming WATEC Israel 2011 will shine a timely light on the Water & Energy Nexus that is proving to be a topic worth discussion. Energy production depends on water, and water purification depends on energy. However, this intrinsic connection has been threatened in recent years, as both water and energy are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Fortunately, due in large part to Israel’s innovative water conservation technologies and exploration of new alternative energy sources, overuse and inefficiency with regards to water and energy consumption may soon become a thing of the past.
Although the amount of water on Earth remains constant, less than 1% is suitable for human use, and that number is shrinking fast. Agricultural use accounts for 70% of global water consumption, but roughly a third of freshwater use for agricultural purposes is unsustainable. Freshwater sources like lakes and rivers are shrinking fast. And as the world population continues to grow and the number of developing economies increases, personal and industrial water use is expected to skyrocket.
The outlook on energy is not much better. The vast majority of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels and coal. Both are nonrenewable energy sources that are being used up at an alarming pace. As with water, energy sources are being depleted at an ever-increasing rate due to economic development and overpopulation.
The looming energy and water shortages cannot be addressed one at a time. They must be addressed together in a comprehensive manner. Without energy, water becomes unusable, and without water, energy cannot be produced. Energy fuels nearly all of our daily water usage. The hot water in our homes is generated by electricity. Energy is used to create freshwater via purification and desalination. Energy is used to transport water through pipes and on trucks. As energy sources dwindle, the prospects of water consumption as we know it become increasingly dim.
While energy is the driving force behind the creation of usable water, water is what makes that energy in the first place. The process of electricity creation is dependent on water vapor. Nuclear and electrical power plants need to use water as a coolant in order to function properly. Water is an essential aspect of the process of mining coal and petroleum. For energy to power our world the way it does today, a constant supply of freshwater must always be accessible. As important as the water and energy industries are individually, they are just as important to one another.
With freshwater and energy sources around the world being used up at an alarming rate, it should come as no surprise that Israel, a small nation with a dearth of freshwater and natural resources, is one of the world leaders in water conservation and energy-efficient technology. Israeli scientists invented the drip irrigation system for watering crops. Drip irrigation provides a more energy efficient way to water crops by directly watering the roots of the plants. The excess water is then collected for reuse. Drip irrigation requires little energy and recycles its wastewater, and has helped curtail agricultural water use. Today, recycled water constitutes three-quarters of the water Israel uses for agriculture.
Israel is also a leading innovator in desalination technology. In 2009, the world’s largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant was opened in Hadera, Israel. Each year, the plant purifies 127 million cubic meters (about 34 billion gallons) of seawater from the Mediterranean. Israeli advances in the reverse-osmosis method, in which water is forced through several membranes at a high pressure, have helped make it the most popular form of desalination and made the procedure five times cheaper in the past 20 years. Israel has also made breakthroughs in increasing the energy efficiency of desalination. Israeli technological firms are working to find ways to use solar energy to improve the efficiency of distillation, an effective method of desalination that is expensive to operate due to high energy consumption.
Although Israel has created many successful ways to save water and energy, it still plans to do more. The country plans to increase its use of renewable energy sources 10% by the year 2020. It is currently working with the company Better Place to establish one of the biggest electric vehicle networks in the world. In 2009, the WATEC Conference on renewable energy and water technologies, held in Tel Aviv, Israel, attracted 20,000 visitors from 94 different countries, and another one will be hosted in November 2011. Attendance at the WATEC 2011 event is projected to easily exceed that of 2009, and with 150 international delegations from over 90 different countries already signed up, the conference should be highly successful and more globalized than ever before. The nexus of water and energy, for better or worse, is unbreakable. Due in large part to Israeli ingenuity, the nexus can continue to flourish in the foreseeable future.
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