The water-energy nexus: an untapped resource for major energy savings

Water requires energy. When we move it, clean it, heat it and cool it—energy moves with it. These two precious resources come together seamlessly in our daily lives, but they can also jointly create significant energy savings. Unleashing the potential of the water-energy nexus will drive substantial energy savings to repower the EU while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Hayati Yarkadas at Xylem Europe on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day. 

The water-energy nexus refers to the link between energy use in water management and water use in energy production. Water and wastewater infrastructure account for 3.7% of the global electricity consumption. The good news is that any efficiency gains in one benefits the other.

And by using high-efficiency technologies, we can cut half of that energy consumption at zero or negative cost. This would be equivalent to removing 9.2 million fossil-fuelled cars per year and it would free up $40 billion to invest in other types of water infrastructure.

The nexus also holds the potential to generate large-scale energy and water savings across sectors and drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—an important element to address the impending climate change crisis.

We must move to an energy-neutral wastewater sector to achieve climate neutrality in Europe.

 

Read the full article here

More information on Energy Efficiency Day here & Register here.

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Adding energy efficiency into the energy mix is essential to delivering Europe’s climate goals

Simply rolling out renewables will not be enough to end Europe’s dependency on gas. Energy efficiency is just as important, writes Katarzyna Wardal on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day.

Energy efficiency should be considered as important as other power generation fuel types Despite it not often making the headlines, energy stakeholders and lawmakers know that energy efficiency can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of Europe’s building stock, which currently accounts for about 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.

But what about energy efficiency as a form of fuel? That may sound like an absurd suggestion. Yet this is exactly the type of idea we need if Europe is to have even a remote chance of achieving any of its ambitious energy and climate goals, whether it is gaining energy independence, reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 or becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

At least 75% of the EU building stock is energy inefficient. Among other factors, these buildings lack the proper insulation needed to keep heat in (or, in the summer, out). Therefore, they need higher flow temperatures to deliver the same level of indoor comfort. Needless to say, getting that higher temperature requires more energy.

This highlights the correlation between energy efficiency and energy use. With heating and cooling responsible for an estimated 35% of a building’s total energy consumption, increasing a building’s energy efficiency can go a long way in reducing fuel use. In other words, the more efficient the building, the more energy saved. As these savings means less energy needs to be produced, energy efficiency should not only be included in the energy mix but given equal footing to other fuel types.

Read the full article here.

More information on Energy Efficiency Day here & Register here.

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To get rid of Russian fossil fuels, the EU needs to put energy savings first

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition, write Monica Frassoni and Harry Verhaar in Euractiv.

The aggression against Ukraine by Putin is not only a tragic reminder that peace is never an evidence but also another powerful reminder of the urgency of getting rid of our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerating the full implementation of an ambitious Green Deal. Over the past decades, the EU hesitated to address its reliance on fossil fuels import, a well-known threat to the block’s energy security.

In 2021 the EU imported more than 40% of its fossil gas consumption from Russia, about 155 billion cubic meters. A considerable amount of this gas is needed to heat Europe’s old and inefficient buildings. Fossil gas accounts for more than 32% of the EU’s final energy consumption in households. If we also consider the indirect use of gas for electricity production, we have the extent of Europe’s gas reliance problem and the risks of its dependency on energy imports.

We welcomed the immediate reaction of the Commission in March with the REPowerEU communication, despite its excessive focus on diversification of gas supply. We are confident that the action plan published on 18 May will be much more coherent with the need to reduce our dependence on Russian gas and fossil fuels altogether through an acceleration of energy efficiency measures and renewables deployment.

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition. A broad range of short and mid-term measures to address the energy and climate crisis is available. We believe that by deploying energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry, transport and the water sector, Europe can deliver massive energy savings and substantially reduce Europe’s fossil fuel imports.

Read the full article in Euractiv 

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World Water Development Report 2020 ‘Water and Climate Change’

Water resources an essential part of the solution to climate change.
Launch of the UN World Water Development Report on 22 March.

Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs, thus undermining enjoyment of the basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for billions of people, warns the latest UN World Water Development Report. The authors call on States to make more concrete commitments to address the challenge.

Such a deterioration of the situation would only hinder achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 which is part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to which access to safe drinking water and sanitation must be guaranteed for all within ten years. This will be a considerable challenge ­– 2.2 billion people currently do not have access to safely managed drinking water, and 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, are without safely managed sanitation.

Water use has increased sixfold over the past century and is rising by about 1% a year. However, it is estimated that climate change, along with the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events – storms, floods and droughts, will aggravate the situation in countries already currently experiencing ‘water stress’ and generate similar problems in areas that have not been severely affected. Furthermore, the report highlights the fact that poor water management tends to exacerbate the impacts of climate change, not only on water resources but on society as a whole.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, stresses “that water does not need to be a problem – it can be part of the solution. Water can support efforts to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

The Chair of UN-Water, and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo,  says : “If we are serious about limiting global temperature increases to below 2°C and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must act immediately. There are solutions for managing water and climate in a more coordinated manner and every sector of society has a role to play. We simply cannot afford to wait.”

Read the full article here.

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The vaccine to future crises is sticking to climate neutrality

by Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)

This op-ed was published on Foresight


While helping workers and companies survive the current crisis, the European institutions should confirm and accelerate the EU’s path to carbon neutrality by 2050, including fixing emissions reduction targets in line with science.

The effects of Covid-19 affect all of us, citizens, businesses and policymakers, and put us in front of a highly disruptive and unprecedented situation. This emergency is forcing us to quickly find solutions to come out as soon as possible from a standstill that touches all aspects of our lives.

What is even more worrying, however, is that this crisis might not be unique in the upcoming years. Even before the outbreak of Covid-19, it was already well-known that challenges such as climate change, pressure on resources and social inequalities required deep transformations in our ways of producing, consuming, living and moving at every level, from local to global. The current crisis has made this clearer. As we plan the next economic recovery measures, we cannot limit ourselves to repair what has been broken. We must collectively build a more sustainable and resilient society to be able to prevent, or at least limit, damages from future shocks. To do this, common, coordinated action is necessary and the EU’s input and guide are precious.

That is why it is key to resist calls to water-down or postpone the European Green Deal from those arguing that in these difficult times supporting the economy no matter what should be prioritised over preparing our transition to a sustainable society. As an association representing strong, global businesses, we believe this dichotomy is false and counterproductive. On the contrary, the Green Deal is the best available, if not the only, growth strategy for the present and the future.

We will all benefit from the acceleration of investments stemming from the Green Deal and Europe’s drive towards climate neutrality will create opportunities that will help us out of the current economic standstill while preventing the future health, economic and environmental crisis that is likely to happen if we fail to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5°C. By basing economic stimulus plans on energy and resource efficiency, circularity and inclusion, European governments could boost economic recovery and job creation in key sectors such as construction, transport, energy, agriculture and manufacturing.

While helping workers and companies survive the current crisis, the European institutions should confirm and accelerate the EU’s path to carbon neutrality by 2050. A clearer roadmap for 2030 and 2040, fixing adequate targets of emission reductions in line with science, is needed. Moreover, we need an efficient and more easily accessible financial framework to help unlock and direct the enormous amounts of private and public investments that will be available in the next months. Finally, the planned revision and update of existing EU legislation, notably in the energy and circular economy sectors, must not be delayed.

In addition, if we are to build a sustainable, resilient and inclusive EU economy we need to overcome existing barriers. These include the insufficient implementation at national level of current legislation, particularly when it comes to energy efficiency and renewables; cumbersome procedures making green investment and the use of available resources difficult for those which could most benefit from them (such as SMEs, local authorities and communities); and hesitations and delays to realise the much-needed phase out of fossil fuels.

The Green Deal is not yet a given. It still needs to be clearly defined and its implementation faces today unexpected challenges. Still, we believe that business and societies are more and more aware that we cannot simply go back to where we were before. Europe needs a clear direction, sufficient resources and a sound and shared set of rules to move beyond the shock of Covid-19 and prevent future crises. Sticking to the climate neutrality path is the only way allowing to do both.

 

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