Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges And Opportunities In UK

Ikenna Reginald Ajiero, David Campbell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Water and energy have been largely treated autonomously by numerous authors either due to the complex challenges associated with assessing both in concert or given their discrete economic roles. However, contemporary issues of phenomenal climate variability, sustainability, industrialization, population growth and security of supply, present a dire need for an integrated approach to policy formulation and design of water-energy systems in the UK.
While water remains a critical resource in energy production, great and growing measure of energy is required for the operation and maintenance of water abstraction, treatment and distribution facilities. This inextricable but intricate link between water and energy clearly presents both problems and prospects for assessment.
Results of the water-energy nexus appraisal reveal that energy use in the water sector has intensified by about 10% over the last eight years, with a 4% escalation to 9.012 TWh between 2009 and 2010 (Water UK, 2010). Accordingly, the energy sector’s water demand has continued to increase with the growing energy demand, and accounts for approximately 32% of the total freshwater abstracted in UK; although about 96% of this is used for cooling purposes and is eventually returned to streams (Hall et al., 2012)
From the study, both sectors heavily rely on each other, as the output of one is the input of the other. However, greater concern is raised in the trend of water sector energy use which is consistently increasing subsequent to the implementation of strict regulatory water regimes that have necessitated the use of more advanced but energy-intensive water and waste water treatment facilities.
Accordingly, whereas thermoelectric and nuclear plants take up as much as 90% of fresh water abstracted for energy purposes, and air cooling is relatively not an efficient cooling strategy, the use of a hybrid system (encompassing water and air) will help reduce the water taken up by the energy sector.
It is believed that this assessment of water and energy resources in tandem will help improve on the design and operation of water-energy systems, enhance the sustainability credential of the undertakings and create more secure integrated services in UK.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2014
EventWater Efficiency Conference 2014 - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 201411 Sept 2014


ConferenceWater Efficiency Conference 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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