A nice overview/introduction to the Water / Energy nexus, via London Environmental Investment Forum…
The water industry is renowned for being risk averse and conservative. It’s understandable. No one wants people to experiment with their water.
But as fresh water becomes more and more precious and the cost of energy to get fresh water keeps on rising, the challenges of the water-energy nexus are getting bigger. The industry needs innovative solutions but with innovation comes risk. This blog series will put the spotlight on technologies addressing some of the challenges and take a closer look at their markets and growth prospects ahead of our next water conference.
The water industry and the energy industry are fundamental to one another. The water industry needs large amounts of energy to transport, store and treat water. The energy industry needs large amounts of water (for boilers and cooling) to generate and distribute power. Head upstream to the oil and gas industry and the problem is there too - the industry is producing increasing amounts of wastewater, and needing more and more energy to treat it.
This last area – the treatment of wastewater produced by the oil and gas industry (known as ‘produced water’) – is one we think has particularly strong growth prospects, especially at the high level end of the process. Using advanced desalination technologies, water can be treated to a standard whereby it’s no longer a waste product to be disposed of, but a resource which can be used again. But treating water to this level is expensive. It can only work if it’s cheaper than the alternative or if the water can be sold on at the right price. Technologies that can deliver the quality of water required while driving down energy costs are on the money.This market looks set for strong growth for several reasons. Conventional oil and gas extraction – which refers to the resources we have typically produced using onshore and offshore vertical wells – has likely peaked in some regions, North America being one of them. Large quantities of water are present in oil reservoirs and are brought to the surface along with the oil during the extraction process. As an oil field matures, there is more water in the reservoir and less oil, which means even more water is brought to the surface as the water to oil ratio increases.