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Developments at the Nexus of Water and Energy

Water and energy systems are inextricably intertwined. In communities, each is needed to produce the other and each is vital to daily life. National attention on the interplay between water and energy was captured when drought in 2012 hampered some power plants ability to provide power. Later, Hurricane Sandy made it clear how dependent our water infrastructure is on the availability of power.

Diana Bauer (2000-2002 Executive Branch Fellow, EPA) and Mark Philbrick (2011-13 Executive Branch Fellow, DOE) played a large role in producing “The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenge and Opportunities,” a new Department of Energy report that details the evolving technical and operational challenges of water and energy production. It also covers strategies that will serve as the foundation for coordinating research and development in new methods and technologies in water and energy production.

Several other fellows at DOE had the opportunity to contribute as well, including Noel Bakhtian (2012-13 Congressional Fellow in the U.S. Senate sponsored by American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and 2014-2015 Executive Branch Fellow, DOE) and Kristen Honey (2013-2014 Executive Branch Fellow, DOE). Bakhtian commented, “The nexus between water and energy is becoming more important every day. This report defines the scope of and challenges in the water-energy nexus and sets a strong foundation for DOE’s next steps in this opportunity space.”

In other “water-energy” news, Bakhtian and Alison LaBonte (2009-2011 Executive Branch Fellow, DOE) are leading a new multimillion dollar wave energy project: the Wave Energy Converter (WEC) Prize Initiative. The design-build-test competition is expected to achieve major performance enhancements for WEC devices and establish a pathway to sweeping cost reductions at a commercial scale. Read more

See the full size infographic of the water-energy nexus here.