Photo shows a green landscape with a row of modern wind mills and solar panels to produce clean energy. A canal of water flows on the right side of the photo into the horizon,

Exploring the interdependence of two critical resources

Energy and Water

Two critical, interdependent resources

Global population who does not have access to safe drinking water 25%

Energy supply depends on water. Water supply depends on energy. The interdependency of water and energy is set to intensify in the coming years, with significant implications for both energy and water security. Each resource faces rising demands and constraints in many regions because of economic and population growth and climate change.

The world has a water problem, and the energy sector needs to contend with it.

Energy is vital to a well-functioning water sector

Energy is needed to extract water from lakes, rivers and oceans, to lift groundwater from aquifers and pump it through pipes and canals, to treat and deliver it to users. Almost all of the world’s water demand is met by groundwater and surface water, but water stress has led to an increase in the use of non-traditional water resources, including desalination and re-use. Energy demand for desalination nearly doubled in the past decade, it is posed to double again to 2030.

Energy demand for desalination in the Stated Policies Scenario, 1990-2030


Renewables can solve the energy sector's water problem

Climate change will only increase the water crisis - clean energy can help

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population experiences severe water scarcity for at least one month each year, and climate change will make water flows more erratic.

In the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE) water withdrawals by the energy sector decline by almost 20 bcm by 2030. The biggest reductions happen in the power sector, where withdrawals fall nearly 15% as coal-fired power generation is quickly replaced by solar PV and wind. Greater energy efficiency also plays an important role in reducing the volume of water needed to meet global energy demand.

Global water consumption in the energy sector by fuel and power generation type in the Net Zero Scenario, 2021 and 2030