According to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a 22% reduction in water consumption for power generation and associated fuel extraction could be achieved by meeting the renewable energy targets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.
'Renewable Energy in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus' provides a detailed analysis of how renewable energy can help address some of the most pressing challenges across the water, energy and food sectors.
During the power generation stage, water needs for solar PV and wind are negligible compared to conventional themoelectric generation where substantial quantities of water are needed for cooling. Solar PV or wind could withdraw up to 200 times less water than a coal power plant to produce the same amount of electricity. In a region where water is scarce and expensive, this would lead to substantial cost savings.
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General, IRENA, commented: “Globally, an energy system with substantial shares of renewables, in particular solar PV and wind power, would save significant amounts of water, thereby reducing strains on limited water resources. Until now, detailed knowledge on the role of renewable energy at the intersection of energy, food and water has been limited. But this first-of-its-kind report shows that in addition to enhancing energy security, improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs, greater deployment of existing renewable energy technology can also bolster water and food security.”
The report also shows that renewable energy-based desalination technologies could play an increasing role in providing clean drinking water for people around the world. Although renewable desalination may still be relatively expensive, decreasing renewable energy costs, technology advancements and increasing scales of deployment make it a cost-effective and sustainable solution in the long term, the report indicates.
Download 'Renewable Energy in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus' below.