Energy Exchange

New study: Better education and data collection can further water (and energy) savings

Can strategic pricing programs motivate people to save water and energy?

Our new paper, Examining conservation-oriented water pricing and programs through an energy lens, suggests the answer is yes – but there are other factors besides pricing at play in programs’ success.

Our findings support the notion that water is conserved through these utility programs, which aim to encourage people to use water wisely. Further, because of the inextricable link between energy and water, known as the energy-water nexus, energy demand and associated carbon emissions lower in tandem with water demand. In other words, programs that save water also save energy, as well as cut pollution.

However, there’s a gap when it comes to awareness of water use and prices in the U.S. (I, for one, have no sense of how much water my roommate and I collectively use, or its cost since water is included in our fixed monthly rent.) The paper concludes that in order to get the most energy savings through water pricing and programs, utilities need to do more to educate customers and promote water conservation: When consumers are aware not only of their rates, but also of their own use, they are empowered to make water-efficient choices. Moreover, the U.S. needs a national standard for collecting and reporting water data, and data needs to be made public for analysis. Read More »

Posted in Energy-Water Nexus / Comments are closed

If we don’t talk about water, are we really talking about resiliency?

It’s time to rely on water-smart power

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is trying to prop up coal and nuclear companies under the guise of enhanced “resiliency.” The Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposal does not define resiliency, nor does it even make clear what resiliency means in the context of the electric grid.

Resiliency in the energy sector generally, however, depends on water. The majority of the electricity that powers our world runs on century-old technology, guzzling down our most precious resource: water. Depending on the type of technology, generating just one megawatt-hour of electricity could use anywhere from 500 to 50,000 gallons. Solar and wind, on the other hand, use negligible amounts of water, and energy efficiency uses none.

Yet neither the DOE’s proposal nor its recent study on grid reliability touches on climate and water. Specifically, there is no mention of how climate change affects water availability or what that means for electric reliability. If Secretary Perry is really concerned about resiliency, water should be a key focus. And as a former governor from a drought-stricken state, he should know better. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization / Read 1 Response

El Paso Electric should protect the city’s water and let solar power shine

Resiliency is a hot button word right now. Ten years ago, advocates focused on “adaptation,” or the idea of adapting to the coming effects of climate change. Now the focus is on “resiliency,” the ability to bounce forward – not backward – when something disastrous happens.

For El Paso, a city on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, resilience is critical. A huge city in the middle of the desert with an average rainfall around 8 inches per year, El Paso needs to be hardy, especially when it comes to water. Read More »

Also posted in General, Texas / Read 4 Responses

How a digital dashboard could make cities’ power, water smarter

By: Jori Mendel, AT&T Smart Cities, and Chandana Vangapalli, former Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow

Technology revolutionizes the way people interact with the world. From video chats to securing homes from thousands of miles away, digital connections bring us closer to what matters most.

This same connectivity can play a critical role in helping cities around the world in the fight against climate change – a fight that will only accelerate in the coming years, with cities and municipalities on the front lines.

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. These urban areas already account for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions, and their impacts will worsen with expansion. Because of their population density, cities are also the most likely to be heavily impacted by water shortages, natural disasters, and heatwaves as climate change progresses.

Smart cities

Understanding how to mitigate these environmental impacts is vital, and the technology that enables cities to be “smart” is a big part of that. Technology can help communities around the world become cleaner, safer, and stronger through connectivity solutions that unlock environmental, social, and economic benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Data Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

Saving Energy and Doubling Worldwide Water Supplies – One Drip at a Time

Netafim HQOn a warm December day, I stood in a jojoba field in the Negev Desert in southern Israel and watched water slowly seep up from the ground around the trees. First a tiny spot, then spreading, watering the plants from deep below. This highly efficient system is known as drip irrigation, and I was there to meet with the world’s leading drip irrigation company, Israel-based Netafim.

Naty Barak, the Netafim director who I met on the visit, notes that if the world’s farmers increased their use of drip irrigation to 15 percent (up from just under 5 percent now), the amount of water available for use worldwide could double.

Drip irrigation saves more than water. Whereas traditional irrigation typically uses quite a bit of energy, drip reduces the pressure (and power) needed to get the water to the crops while reducing the need for energy-hungry fertilizers. Plus, due to the inextricable link between water and power, saving water results in further saved energy.

Texas has already enhanced its water efficiency, but it could go further and take a page out of Israel’s book. By investing in thoughtful drip irrigation now, Texas could lead the nation on expanding this innovative technology and significantly reduce the energy footprint of its irrigation sector, while protecting water supplies for our growing cities and creating more sustainable farming practices. Read More »

Also posted in Texas / Comments are closed

This Year’s Super Bowl is Energy-Efficient. Shouldn’t Texas Be?

nrg stadium flickrThis weekend, thousands of people will descend upon Houston to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons duke it out at the Super Bowl. But the game won’t be the only thing on display.

In 2014, Houston’s NRG Stadium became one of the first major sports venues to use LED energy-efficient lights. The system uses 60 percent less power than the previous lighting array, translating to significant energy savings. What if Texas took a page from NRG’s book to lead the country in saving energy?

Texas recently kicked off its 85th Legislative Session. Now is the time for state leaders to seize on energy efficiency as a win-win-win path, creating local jobs while helping Texans save money and water, and reducing electricity waste and pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency / Comments are closed