The World Bank's Thirsty Energy Initiative was launched this year to help developing countries better understand water consumption in the energy sector. Since very large quantities of water are used during the power generation process, the Bank wants to ensure that the energy sector properly incorporates those water requirements in their planning and their investment strategies. This is according to World Bank’s senior economist, Diego Rodriguez who spoke to Engerati at the recent African Utility Week conference.
Water demand is growing
Many factors influence water consumption. Competition is growing within the agriculture sector which is currently drawing 70-80% of the water globally and urbanization levels are escalating-the largest growth rate is in Africa where urban slums will continue to expand. In response to growing urbanization, the energy sector also needs to increase its water supplies for its power production processes. “Competition around these sectors is growing and this needs to be taken into account,” explains Rodriguez. Climate change is also having an effect on demand and supply.
There are a very complex set of issues which must be tackled and it is important that the synergies between power and water are understood, says Rodriguez. “We must ask how we can maximize co-generation and get benefits from joint investments in water to integrated planning so that both sectors can ‘talk’ to each other.”
In the interview, Rodriguez points out that effective and sustainable water consumption could improve a project’s bankability.”While there are a number of requirements from the World Bank, the effective usage of water is definitely a big requirement when it comes to bankability.”
Sectors can no longer make decisions in isolation from each other. Planning and investment must take into account with other sectors. The success of a project is highly dependent on the communication with expert across various sectors.