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Energy-Water Nexus


Problem Statement

Water and energy are strongly interrelated and the links between the two systems are expected to intensify further in the future. The energy sector withdraws more water than any other sector in the United States, mainly for power generation. Similarly, the water sector relies heavily on energy for water supply and water treatment (including desalinization). The interdependency between energy and water is referred to as Energy-Water (EW) Nexus. The intent of this module is to introduce students to Energy-Water Nexus and analyze stresses on water system under different scenarios of current and future energy demands, including factors such as fuel type, cooling technologies, greenhouse regulations, and population growth. The analysis is done at the scale of eight-digit watershed hydrologic unit code (HUC8).

Module Overview

The module is composed of three main sections; each section has background information and contains a set of quantitative, hypothesis-driven learning activities that utilize different datasets on water use, water supply and thermoelectric power plants.

Topics Covered

(1) Analysis of water supply and demand

(2) Analysis of stress on surface and groundwater systems

(3) Sectoral analysis of water stresses

(4) Impact of environmental flows

(5) Analysis of groundwater depletion

(6) Mapping power plants in the U.S.

(7) Impact of power plant retrofitting on the water system

(8) Water requirements for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies

(9) Analysis of water-energy nexus under future population growth scenarios

(10) Use of non-traditional water resources for energy, with cost-benefit analysis



Course Authors

Course Staff Image #1

Emad Habib

University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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Hanz Unruh

University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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Hisham Eldardiry

University of Washington Seattle. Contact:
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Vincent Tidwell

Sandia National Laboratories. Contact:

Target Audience

Junior/Senior Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering Courses

Tools Needed

Computer with access to Internet, Excel, HydroViz Water-Energy Portal and free QGIS software

Expected Total Hours

A student could expect to complete this module with approximately 26 work hours.