Although generally managed separately, water and energy resources are interdependent. Water is necessary to cool various energy systems, irrigate crops for biofuels, and, as in the case of Verdant Power systems and conventional hydropower, for the direct production of electricity. Conversely, energy is needed to transport water for drinking, irrigate food crops, and convey water to and from treatment facilities. A nexus approach is critical to water management and sustainable energy generation.
Today, several trends are creating an increased urgency to address this 'water-energy nexus' in an integrated and proactive way:
Climate change is affecting precipitation patterns throughout the world.
Population growth and regional migration trends are likely to increase, complicating management of energy and water systems.
New technologies in energy and water domains shift water-energy demands.
Developments in policies are introducing additional incentives and challenges for decision making.
As further outlined in the US Department of Energy's 2014 report, The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, an integrated, strategic approach should guide water-energy technology research and development to address related issues at the local and global levels.
Verdant Power Impact
Verdant Power believes it can make a significant impact at the water-energy nexus, leveraging the in-water placement of its systems and the study of local water resources during project development to support comprehensive solutions to regional water-energy needs.
Accordingly, Verdant Power is currently working to develop a model for conducting holistic reviews of local water resources, taking into account not only the potential for clean energy generation, but also needs and opportunities related to clean water management.
This begins by surveying a community’s existing waterways and other natural resources, taking inventory of existing efforts and needs, and capturing synergies in an integrated plan. As it has done with its system R&D, Verdant envisions starting such efforts at the manageable pilot scale, which can be fine tuned at lower cost and with fewer resources, before scaling up to secure long-term, sustainable, and replicable clean water-energy solutions for local communities.
Free Flow System Integration
The in-water siting of the Free Flow System creates opportunities to develop integrated approaches to water-energy issues, providing efficient, direct electrical or mechanical power to technologies including the following:
• Clean water systems, including reverse osmosis membranes and pumped water to filtration tanks and towers
• Pumping systems for conveyance of irrigation and potable water
• Water aeration systems to support aquaculture and address anoxic waters
• Electrolysis systems for hydrogen production, which can be used to power water ferries and other hydrogen fuel cell-powered vessels/vehicles