2014 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference. Preparing for World Water Day 2014: Partnerships for improving water and energy access, efficiency and sustainability. 13-16 January 2014

A BP-funded multi-disciplinary research programme investigating the effects of natural resources scarcities on patterns of energy supply and consumption

By Alistair Wyness, Group Water Expert, BP


A BP-funded consortium of experts from 15 leading universities is examining the complex relationships between natural resources and the supply and use of energy. This multi-disciplinary research programme – the Energy Sustainability Challenge (ESC) – is investigating the implications of natural resource scarcities on patterns future energy demands.

One of the key outputs of this research has been improved quantification of how we use water to create energy, presented through the recent publication “Water in the energy industry: an introduction”. This research provides interested parties, from policy makers to international non-government organisations with independently verified data sets to develop and apply in a regional setting. It also presents the changing ways that we use water to help us obtain energy in the forms we need, how this has changed over the last 50 years and how future deployment of new technologies (replacement, re-use and recycling) an d through regional responsibility to adapt practices to suit local water availability and demands will allow us to retain of water for energy production. Examples will be presented on to demonstrate the change and current user of water in energy, including the development of methods to reduce freshwater demands in oil and gas extraction, how water use in oil production varies for different regions and different stages of maturity and how better choices in cooling systems in electricity generation can deliver increased energy without increasing impacts on freshwater resources.