World Bank to help energy/water development link

The World Bank is to help developing countries to better plan and scale-up their energy demand in tandem with water resource management.

The bank launched a new global initiative Thirsty Energy on 21 January 2014 at the World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Last year, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the USA and threatened hydropower generation in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil.

The problem is expected only to get worse. By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35%, which in turn will increase water consumption by 85%, according to the International Energy Agency.

Thirsty Energy is a global initiative aimed to help governments prepare for an uncertain future by:

 Identifying synergies and quantifying tradeoffs between energy development plans and water use
 Piloting cross-sectoral planning to ensure sustainability of energy and water investments
 Designing assessment tools and management frameworks to help governments coordinate decision-making.

With the energy sector as an entry point, initial work has already started in South Africa and dialogue has been initiated in Bangladesh, Morocco, and Brazil where the challenges have already manifested and thus where demand exists for integrated approaches.

“Water constraints on the energy sector can be overcome, but all stakeholders, public and private, must work together to develop innovative tools and use water as a guiding factor for assessing viability of projects,” said Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency. “The absence of integrated planning is unsustainable.”

Solutions exist, but countries must continue to innovate and adapt policies and technology to address the complexity of the landscape. These solutions include technological development and adoption, improved operations to reduce water use and impacts in water quality, and strong integrated planning.