Volume 32, Issue 3

May 2016
Special Issue on Energy for Water: Regional Case Studies

Research Article

A framework for understanding energy for water

Christopher Napoli and Berenice Garcia-Tellez
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Contact: Christopher Napoli | Email: christopher.napoli@kapsarc.org


This article offers a framework for understanding how energy is used to meet water demand in countries. Specifically, the relationships between energy use and water scarcity, the location of renewable water resources, and aggregate water demand are explored. The article also examines how policy options such as water price reforms, agriculture subsidies and crop elimination may influence the energy use and energy intensity of water withdrawals. Conclusions suggest that while policy options exist, certain uncontrollable factors such as severe water scarcity or substantial freshwater abundance limit the ability of some countries to significantly improve the aggregate energy efficiency of water provision.

Pages: 339-361

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2015.1122579 (Open Access)

Research Article

The energy trade-offs of adapting to a water-scarce future: case study of Los Angeles

Kelly Twomey Sanders
Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

Contact: Kelly Twomey Sanders | Email: ktsanders@usc.edu


Increasing water competition, population growth and global climate change will intensify the tension between water and energy resources in arid climates of the world, since energy costs underscore the challenges facing water security in dry regions. In few places is the tension between water and energy resources more pronounced than in Los Angeles, California. This article analyzes the city’s current water supply and estimates its future energy requirements based on water supply projections from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Results suggest that while increasing local water management strategies could reduce the future energy intensity of the water supply, an increased reliance on water transfers could worsen its future energy intensity.

Pages: 362-378


Research Article

Quantifying and managing urban water-related energy use systemically: case study lessons from Australia

Steven John Kenway and Ka Leung Lam
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Contact: Steven John Kenway | Email: s.kenway@uq.edu.au


In this paper, three Australian case studies contribute to improved understanding of water-related energy quantification and management. A systems analysis of urban water in South East Queensland (Case Study 1) demonstrates the energy impact of water end use. In Melbourne (Case Study 2), water–energy interlinkages are explored within households. Finally, Case Study 3 in Sydney shows how abatement curves can help guide management action. Collectively, the case studies provide new information for least-cost solutions and simultaneous water and energy efficiency. The work highlights the need for frameworks to characterize and evaluate both the direct and indirect energy influences of urban water.

Pages: 379-397


Research Article

Energy for freshwater supply, use and disposal in the Netherlands: a case study of Dutch households

P.W. Gerbens-Leenes
Water Management Group, Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

Contact: P.W. Gerbens-Leenes | Email: p.w.gerbens-leenes@utwente.nl


This study presents energy requirements for Dutch household water: 10.2 GJ per capita per year, which includes 9.3 GJ (92%) for heating water, 0.6 GJ (6%) for water supply, and 0.2 GJ for wastewater treatment (2%). The top three energy consumers include shower water (58%), dishwasher water (9%) and washing machine water (8%). The Netherlands, a water-abundant country, expends far more energy to heat water for households than to supply municipal water, or to treat and dispose of wastewater. Policies to make water chains more sustainable should focus on use, rather than supply and disposal.

Pages: 398-411

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2015.1127216 (Open Access)

Research Article

Evaluating the economic viability of solar-powered desalination: Saudi Arabia as a case study

Christopher Napoli and Bertrand Rioux
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Contact: Christopher Napoli | Email: christopher.napoli@kapsarc.org


This article constructs a cost calculator to estimate the economic competitiveness of solar-powered desalination in Saudi Arabia. Solar desalination is defined as a plant that obtains solar energy from a closed system. This is done to focus the investigation on desalination technologies, rather than the efficacy of replacing conventional energy sources with renewables in an integrated electricity grid. The results suggest that current options for solar-powered desalination are not cost-competitive compared to incumbent technologies in Saudi Arabia. The article offers insight into where costs must decrease before solar technologies are economically competitive in the country.

Pages: 412-427

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2015.1109499 (Open Access)

Research Article

Responding to water challenges in Greece through desalination: energy considerations

A. Kartalidisa, E. Tzenb, E. Kampragkoua and D. Assimacopoulosa
aSchool of Chemical Engineering, Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece, bIndependent Engineer, Athens, Greece

Contact: D. Assimacopoulos | Email: assim@chemeng.ntua.gr


Desalination technology, and reverse osmosis in particular, is used by several island authorities in Greece to address water scarcity. However, this is a highly energy-intensive technique, requiring the consumption of significant quantities of fossil fuels. The case of Syros Island is presented, to demonstrate the strong water–energy link in the operation of desalination plants. The article also discusses the use of renewable energy sources as a means for reducing the energy intensity of desalination.

Pages: 428-441


Research Article

Modernization of irrigation systems in Spain: review and analysis for decision making

Javier Alarcóna, Alberto Garridob and Luis Juanac
aETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, bDepartamento de Economía Agraria y Ciencias Sociales, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain, cDepartamento de Ingeniería Rural, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

Contact: Javier Alarcón | Email: jalarconluque@gmail.com


This article presents a method for analyzing the economic feasibility of modernizing irrigation systems. By using substitution relationships between two variables, one can determine irrigation performance and farm profit ​above which modernization would be justified from an economic point of view; ​and also the  investments and energy consumption up to which modernization could be considered cost-effective. By means of representative average values, this method is applied to the now widespread conversion from surface irrigation to drip irrigation in Spain. Two conclusions are drawn. First, modernization may, in some instances, be justified only if more productive crop patterns are implemented. Second, saving water is a cheaper option than using an alternative resource only under certain conditions.

Pages: 442-458


Research Article

Drivers of groundwater use and technical efficiency of groundwater, canal water, and conjunctive use in Pakistan’s Indus Basin Irrigation System

Dawit Mekonnena, Afreen Siddiqiand Claudia Ringlera
aEnvironment and Production Technology Division, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA, bMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA

Contact: Dawit Mekonnen | E-mail: d.mekonnen@cgiar.org


This paper explores the major determinants of heavy reliance on groundwater and the extent to which conjunctive use of ground and surface water affects the production efficiency of Pakistan’s irrigators. The results show that the major drivers of groundwater use in Pakistan’s agriculture are the variability and uncertainty associated with surface water delivery and that any effort to address the groundwater–energy nexus challenge should first consider fixing the problems associated with surface water supplies. The findings also suggest that having access to groundwater does not directly translate into improvements in technical efficiency of production.

Pages: 459-476


Research Article

Energy for water utilization in China and policy implications for integrated planning

Xi Lia, Jie Liua, Chunmiao Zhengb,c, Guoyi Hanand Holger Hoffd
aInstitute of Water Sciences and College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China, bSchool of Environmental Science and Engineering, South University of Science and Technology of China, Shenzhen, China, cDepartment of Geological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, dStockholm Environment Institute, Sweden

Contact: Jie Liu | Email: jliu@pku.edu.cn

Contact: Chunmiao Zheng | Email: zhengcm@sustc.edu.cn


Significant energy resources are needed for traditional and nontraditional water utilization in China. Yet the interlinkages between water and energy have not received adequate attention in the country. To address this gap, this article disaggregates and quantifies the magnitude and direction of energy and water flows in China at the national level through Sankey diagrams. Spatial distributions of energy use by different components of the water supply were further mapped at the provincial level to discern regional differences. The results of this study show that the total energy consumption by water abstraction, treatment and distribution, as well as waste treatment and reuse, amounts to 193.5 TWh of electricity, or about 4% of the total national electricity usage. The outcome of this study offers important policy implications for integrated water and energy planning and management and will contribute to achieving the goal of low-energy water utilization in the future.

Pages: 477-494