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Page added on July 29, 2014

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Worldwide water shortage by 2040


Two new reports that focus on the global electricity water nexus have just been published. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. It is a clash of competing necessities, between drinking water and energy demand. Behind the research is a group of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and CNA Corporation in the US.

In most countries, electricity is the biggest source of water consumption because the power plants need cooling cycles in order to function. The only energy systems that do not require cooling cycles are wind and solar systems, and therefore one of the primary recommendations issued by these researchers is to replace old power systems with more sustainable wind and solar systems.

The research has also yielded the surprising finding that most power systems do not even register how much water is being used to keep the systems going.

By 2020 the water issue affects 30-40% of the world

“It’s a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realise how much water they actually consume. And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon”, says Professor Benjamin Sovacool from Aarhus University.

Combining the new research results with projections about water shortage and the world population, it shows that by 2020 many areas of the world will no longer have access to clean drinking water. In fact, the results predict that by 2020 about 30-40% of the world will have water scarcity, and according to the researchers, climate change can make this even worse.

“This means that we’ll have to decide where we spend our water in the future. Do we want to spend it on keeping the power plants going or as drinking water? We don’t have enough water to do both”, says Professor Benjamin Sovacool.

How to solve the problem?

In the reports, the researchers emphasise six general recommendations for decision-makers to follow in order to stop this development and handle the crisis around the world:

· Improve energy efficiency

· Better research on alternative cooling cycles

· Registering how much water power plants use

· Massive investments in wind energy

· Massive investments in solar energy

· Abandon fossil fuel facilities in all water stressed places (which means half the planet)

Close up on France, the US, China and India

The team of researchers conducted their research focusing on four different case studies in France, the United States, China and India respectively. Rather than reviewing the situation on a national level, the team narrowed in and focused on specific utilities and energy suppliers. The first step was identifying the current energy needs, and then the researchers made projections as far as 2040, and most of the results were surprising. All four case studies project that it will be impossible to continue to produce electricity in this way and meet the water demand by 2040.

“If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage – even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price. There will no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today. There’s no time to waste. We need to act now”, concludes Professor Benjamin Sovacool.

More information about the research and links to the reports:


11 Comments on "Worldwide water shortage by 2040"

  1. TIKIMAN on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 5:38 pm 

    California is already fucked for water. $500 fine for watering your lawn or washing your car heh. Great place to live, overdeveloped and full of sheep.

  2. Plantagenet on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 6:26 pm 

    California seems to have plenty of water for posh lush fairways and water hazards on the golf courses for the 1%. Obama seems to go there every other week to play more golf at various members-only country clubs.

  3. Kenz300 on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 6:55 pm 

    Too many people and too few resources………….yet the worlds population grows by 80 million more people every year…………………

    Oil, coal and nuclear power plants use massive amounts of water to generate electricity…………

    Wind and solar power plants do not use water to generate electricity……………..

    Time to speed up the transition to safer, cleaner, cheaper ways to generate electricity that do not use water.


    Renewables Provide 56 Percent of New US Electrical Generating Capacity in First Half of 2014

  4. surf on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 7:10 pm 

    Clalifornia over ten years ago imposed rules preventing new power plants from using drinking water for cooling. They can use the sea water, brine, or waste water or air cooling systems. The new Ivanpah solar thermal power plant uses air cooling and and then purifies brine from an on site well to replenish the small amount of water lost during maintenance of the turbine and to clean the mirrors. many other power plants have already switched to waist water.

  5. Makati1 on Tue, 29th Jul 2014 8:29 pm 

    No matter which way we turn, we seem to be out of luck the closer we get to 2100. I won’t be here to see 2100, nor any of my kids or grand kids, but they will suffer the contraction in everything, and the eventual bottleneck for our species.

    The 21st century is going to be even more exciting than the 20th, but, if you are not into worldwide current events, it may not seem that way. Just more BAU with some spotty problems and inconveniences. Think “the frog in the slowly warming pot” story.

  6. Richard Ralph Roehl on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 1:49 am 

    The ONGOING ‘1000 year drought’ in California (and much of the Southwestern United States) suggests… the planet cannot support any more anal retentive lawns… or giant golf courses… or allowing every human consumer on Earth to shower twice a day.

    Planet Over-birth Earth has far extended its capacity to sustain the current economic model of perpetual growth.

  7. M1 on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 8:42 am 

    Kills me the dumbxxx’s are blaming Obama for what the COAL industry has done.

    Not demanding that coal be Shut Down,
    Not demanding that solar energy fields be installed,
    or wind power.
    Not coming up with any Solutions.

    Just blame the black guy.

  8. M1 on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 8:43 am 

    Hey guys, why aren’t you smoking?
    The tobacco industry swears it’s safe!

  9. shortonoil on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 9:24 am 

    I wonder if the good Doctor, and his team of Vermont Law students factored in the impact of petroleum depletion by 2040. What little oil that will still remain by that point, will be priced at $17 to $20 gallon for transportation fuels. How many power plants will still be operating when there is no economy, and no demand for anything outside of food? A dirt floored hovel only needs one light bulb!

  10. Norm on Wed, 30th Jul 2014 2:43 pm 

    When the regular water runs out, we could all switch over to bottled water.

  11. Kenz300 on Thu, 31st Jul 2014 6:34 am 

    Overpopulation facts – the problem no one will discuss: Alexandra Paul at TEDxTopanga – YouTube

    Over population makes every problem harder to solve…… food crisis, water crisis, energy crisis, jobs crisis, declining fish stocks crisis, climate change crisis…..

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