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TED's work acknowledged by UN World Water Development Report

Meeting the power challenge

The Report highlights the need to coordinate water and energy management policies to meet the challenges ahead. This includes revising pricing practices to ensure that water and energy are sold at rates that reflect their real cost and environmental impact more accurately. Considering the scope of investments required to develop durable alternative infrastructures, the private sector has a major role to play in supplementing public expenditure. In 2008, it was estimated that developing countries would need to spend $103 billion annually on improved water, sanitation and wastewater treatment to achieve the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Another $49 billion per year will be needed to achieve universal energy access by 2030.

Systems which allow for the combined production of water and electricity probably hold the key to the future. This solution is particularly adapted to the arid regions. Thus, the power plants of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and Shoaiba in Saudi Arabia serve both for sea water desalination and energy production.

Water is increasingly being recycled to generate energy. The organic matter it contains serves for the production of methane-rich biogas. In Chile, the Farafana plant treats 50% of the wastewater of Santiago producing close to 24 million cubic metres of biogas. One hundred thousand residents use this energy in lieu of natural gas. In Stockholm (Sweden), buses and taxis run on biogas produced from wastewater. The interest in this technology is also growing in developing countries. In Maresu (Lesotho), 300 families use biogas as cooking fuel.

In developing countries, particularly in warm climates, there is little opportunity for using thermal energy from wastewater, but generating biogas from wastewater can be very useful. This is now a widespread practice in many cities in Africa and in Asia. More than 300 households and institutions in Maseru, Lesotho, are generating biogas from wastewater and using it as a cooking fuel. Although the initial cost for decentralized wastewater treatment systems- which includes a biogas digester, an anaerobic baffle reactor and planted gravel filters – is slightly higher than septic tanks, the additional benefits of biogas allow the system to pay for itself in three years (Mantopi and Huba, 2011). When biogas is used for cooking it often replaces inefficient and potentially harmful solid biomass fuels (Chapters 3, 9).  Decentralized biogas systems for wastewater treatment also reduce the cost of transporting and pumping wastewater.

(Source: www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap)

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