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Dams will not solve all Africa’s energy problems

By Rudo Sanyanga

A surge of water signals that Pres. Jacob Zuma has opened the control valves duringA surge of water signals that Pres. Jacob Zuma has opened the control valves during the opening ceremony of the De Hoop Dam, near Steelpoort in Limpopo in MarchThe world’s water experts convene in Stockholm onThursday where King Carl Gustav will present thecity’s Water Prize to John Briscoe, a Harvard professorand former water manager at the World Bank. After many years spent in the international water bureaucracy, Briscoesays he is “controversial and proud of it”.

Indeed, thejury’s choice raises contentious questions about how bestto manage water resources for the shared benefit of all.Since the turn of the century, Briscoe has been the world’spre-eminent crusader for large dams in Africa and othercontinents. In the 20th century, Europe developed about80% of its hydropower potential, while Africa has stillexploited only 8% of its own.

Water Conflict

water warsjpgWater is one of our most critical resources, but around the world it isunder threat. Worldwater.org is dedicated to providing informationand resources to help protect and preserve fresh water around the globe.

In an ongoing eff ort to understand the connections between water resources, water systems, and international security and confl ict, the Pacifi c Institute initiated a project in the late 1980s to track and categorize events related to water and confl ict, which has been continuously updated since November 2009.

world water day collum water & energy 22.03.2014       World Water Day 2014 logo 


 water and energy

Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Recent interest in biofuels also creates an incremental demand on water resources; the latest World Water Development Report (2012) predicts that even a nominal increase in biofuel demand (say 5% of road transport by 2030, as predicted by International Energy Agency) could push up the water demand by as much as 20% of the water used for agriculture worldwide. Additionally, biofuel production is linked to increases in water pollution through increased used of fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. Conversely, about 8% of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers. Co-production of water and energy, as is the case for geothermal energy generation, offers interesting opportunities to energyand water-scarce countries.

One may, therefore, argue that reflecting the interlinkages between water and energy should be given adequate attention in the new and emerging agenda around the so-called Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development dialogue. This could also be linked to the design of a climate resilient and robust green economy, as noted in the Section III of the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want.” With industries being major water and energy consumers, a green economy will be contingent to the greening of the industrial sector and resource efficient, cleaner production. A particular emphasis has to be placed on increasing the water use efficiency in energy production – essentially producing more kWh per drop of water. This would require a policy environment in which economic and social incentives are offered to promote water use efficiency and protect freshwater ecosystems.

Source: World Water Day 2014


The Energy-Water Challenge

thirst energySignificant amounts of water are needed in almost all energy generation processes, from generating hydropower, to cooling and other purposes in thermal power plants, to extract¬ing and processing fuels. Conversely, the water sector needs energy to extract, treat and transport water. Both energy and water are used in the production of crops, including those used to generate energy through biofu¬els. Population growth and rapidly expanding economies place additional demands on water and energy, while several regions around the world are already experiencing significant water and energy shortages.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene December 2018 Vol.13 No.6