Energy Exchange

How this 300-year-old city is leading on U.S. solar, energy-water, and climate action

By Kate Zerrenner, Jaclyn Rambarran

On May 5, 2018, the city of San Antonio will officially be 300 years old! On that day in 1718, the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar (a Spanish fort) was founded. The city’s tricentennial celebration will culminate in a weeklong celebration of history, art, and culture the first week of May.

San Antonio is a unique place that should be honored in Texas and beyond. In addition to its strong Hispanic heritage, the city boasts a large military population, straddles the border between eastern, western, and southern U.S., and claims to be the birthplace of breakfast tacos.

This growing city also has a powerful role to play in the future of Texas and the United States in terms of climate change and air quality, as evidenced by its initiatives around renewable energy, the energy-water nexus, and climate action. With all this in mind, let’s take a moment to celebrate not just San Antonio’s momentous birthday, but also its impressive efforts to ensure the sustainability of the city going forward. Read More »

Also posted in Texas / Comments are closed

The energy reality behind Cape Town's water crisis – and why the U.S. should care

In Cape Town, South Africa, the countdown is on for Day Zero when water taps in the city of 4 million people are expected to run dry.

Yet, while this water crisis has been making headlines worldwide, nobody’s talking about the connection between water and energy. In a rapidly changing climate, we should.

Cape Town may be the first major city staring down a water scarcity crisis, but it’s not alone. One-quarter of the world’s large cities, including at least two in the United States, are “water-stressed,” a 2014 study found.

As it turns out, many of them also happen to rely on the world’s thirstiest energy source: coal. Read More »

Posted in Energy-Water Nexus / Read 2 Responses

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