The Global Water Crisis Could Crush The Energy Industry

For years, the energy sector, and almost every other sector, has taken water for granted, viewing it as an abundant resource. But as we move into a new era of renewable energy, the vast amounts of water required to power green energy operations may not be so easy to find. And it’s not just renewables that are under threat from water scarcity, as it also hinders fossil fuel production and threatens food security.

In recent months, we have seen extreme droughts across Europe and the U.S., which are finally making people realise the significance of water security. Stefano Venier, CEO of the Italian energy infrastructure company Snam, highlights the huge impact recent droughts have had on both food security and energy production. Labelled as ‘Europe’s worst drought in 500 years’, the low water levels have restricted shipping capabilities, as well as drying up soil and reducing summer crop yields.

Venier explains, “For a long time, water was considered [as being] for free, as something that is fully available in any quantity.” He went on to say, “Now, we are discovering that with climate change … water can become scarce.” And so, “we have to regain the perception of importance, and the value [that] … the water has, also, with respect to … energy production… we have discovered that without water, enough water, we cannot produce the energy we need, or we can’t ship the fuels for filling the power plants,” he added.

The drought has already raised concerns for nuclear power plant operators that rely on water from rivers to cool their nuclear reactors. EDF typically uses water from the Rhone and Garonne but rising water temperatures mean that nuclear power output could be reduced during hot periods. The falling water levels have also hindered traditional energy operations such as coal output, according to several European energy firms. – READ MORE