Dr. Webber will be discussing these issues from his book “Thirst for Power: Energy, Water, and Human Survival” and the ASUG Southwest Energy and Utilities Conference, July 27-28, 2017 in Houston, TX.
Come listen and learn more.
At the 2016 Energy Thought Summit in Austin last April, University of Texas professor and Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, Dr. Michael E. Webber spoke about his recent book titled “Thirst for Power: Energy, Water, and Human Survival” which explores the interconnectedness between energy and water, citing them as our most important global resources. He asserts that our society can’t even begin to address social and economic issues without first addressing our water and energy problem. An infographic from energy.gov (shown below) illustrates the many ways in which our water and energy systems are interdependent. Naturally, this relationship has critical implications for the utility industry – water helps keep our electrical power plants cool and aids in oil and gas extraction, and energy allows us to pump, treat, heat, and cool water.
However, the link between these two resources means that while its benefits (efficiency, power, safety) are connected, so too are its constraints. A water problem is an energy problem, and vice versa. Population growth, economic improvement, technology, and climate change are all factors that pose an immense challenge for the future of our natural resources. While Dr. Webber cites some solutions currently being employed, from irrigation efficiency in agriculture (“more crop per drop”) to treating toilet water for human consumption (“toilet to tap”), these measures have little efficacy in the face of the monumental demands for more water and better energy.
Dr. Webber’s key takeaway was that because these two resources are so conjoined, saving energy saves water, and vice versa. In a nutshell, conservation buys us time as we attempt to address the challenges of the future. Conservation is an action we can take now, that isn’t constrained by time (we can employ water and energy conservation measures as soon as today, as well as in systems we build that will last over the next few decades) or space (conservation can happen in a small room or within the nation’s largest cities).