In July, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released reports (see U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather and Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World) highlighting the energy sector’s vulnerability to future water constraints. The reports’ findings paint a worrisome picture: currently, 60% of coal power plants in the U.S. are experiencing water stress; hydropower is threatened due to more frequent and severe droughts; and energy infrastructure is endangered by water variability due to climate change.
Water is critical for producing power, and vice versa. Almost all energy generation processes require significant amounts of water, and the treatment and transport of water requires energy, mainly in the form of electricity. Even though the interdependency between water and energy is gaining wider recognition worldwide, water and energy planning often remain distinct. The tradeoffs involved in balancing one need against the other in this “energy-water nexus,” as it is called, are often not clearly identified or taken into account, complicating possible solutions.
Energy is essential to heat homes and cook meals. It is needed to deliver proper health care in hospitals and to teach children. It is essential for economic growth and development and for powering industries, farms and businesses. It is at the heart of any effort to make a better life possible for people all over the world, in particular for the world’s poorest.
World Bank study of Eastern Europe and Central Asian experience finds that complementary policies needed to get more renewable bang out of FiT buck.
Given that the effects of energy efficiency measures tend to be offset by a greater energy consumption that comes with economic growth, these measures, while important, will not by themselves be sufficient to achieve major reductions in emissions – making the move toward cleaner energy a rising priority for climate change mitigation.
A cup of coffee in Caracas costs almost 200 times a liter of gasoline. Households in Turkey paid 74 times more than their Egyptian counterparts for bottled cooking gas in early 2013. The price differences across countries for gasoline and diesel are even larger, as much as 250-fold for diesel.
If you live on an island in the ocean, energy and climate issues come together in a palpable way. Most small island developing states depend heavily on imported fossil fuels, especially diesel, for their power. For remote islands, in the Pacific for example, the fuel must be shipped over long distances. It’s expensive, the supply is limited and intermittent, and paying for it stretches government budgets. Because of this, low-income families and communities often rely instead on kerosene, and wood or other biomass for lighting and cooking.
Film is a powerful tool for explaining environmental issues. I first learnt this lesson while trying to enlist local communities in northern Vietnam to help protect a strange blue faced and critically endangered primate called the Tonkin Snub Nosed Monkey. After a morning spent bombarding local leaders with facts and figures, they were polite but unmoved.
In downtown Houston last month, flags were unfurled everywhere promoting LNG 17 - the biggest global gathering devoted to LNG, or liquefied natural gas, as well as its whole value chain. Bringing together industry, governments and experts on everything from "peak shaving" to floating liquefied natural gas facilities – to how LNG contributes to energy security, the conference proved a good platform to raise up and coming issues. To that end, a World Bank Group session at the conference reviewed our own gas activities, and featured a discussion on "Petroleum Contract Transparency - the new normal?"
Spring has arrived. Despite a late start, this winter lasted longer than usual in many countries, especially in various parts of Europe. And this year again, the melting snows reveal a trend that has been observed over the past several years: households are increasingly using wood to heat their homes. No, this time we are not talking about World Bank client countries where wood is known to account for large shares of energy consumption.
I’m back from the 2013 Clean Cooking Forum in Phnom Penh, and impressed with the insights shared by practitioners and household fuel experts from around the world. It’s good to see clean cooking at the center of the global development agenda. But to live up to expectations, we’ll need to keep working hard.