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Sustainability 2013, 5(11), 4674-4687; doi:10.3390/su5114674
Article

The Water Demand of Energy: Implications for Sustainable Energy Policy Development

*  and
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 23 October 2013 / Accepted: 24 October 2013 / Published: 5 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Energy-Sustainability Nexus)
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Abstract

With energy security, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development as three main motives, global energy policies have evolved, now asking for higher shares of renewable energies, shale oil and gas resources in the global energy supply portfolios. Yet, concerns have recently been raised about the environmental impacts of the renewable energy development, supported by many governments around the world. For example, governmental ethanol subsidies and mandates in the U.S. are aimed to increase the biofuel supply while the water footprint of this type of energy might be 70–400 times higher than the water footprint of conventional fossil energy sources. Hydrofracking, as another example, has been recognized as a high water-intensive procedure that impacts the surface and ground water in both quality and quantity. Hence, monitoring the water footprint of the energy mix is significantly important and could have implications for energy policy development. This paper estimates the water footprint of current and projected global energy policies, based on the energy production and consumption scenarios, developed by the International Energy Outlook of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The outcomes reveal the amount of water required for total energy production in the world will increase by 37%–66% during the next two decades, requiring extensive improvements in water use efficiency of the existing energy production technologies, especially renewables.
Keywords: water footprint; energy policy; renewable energy; sustainable development; water-energy nexus water footprint; energy policy; renewable energy; sustainable development; water-energy nexus
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hadian, S.; Madani, K. The Water Demand of Energy: Implications for Sustainable Energy Policy Development. Sustainability 2013, 5, 4674-4687.

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