Scharnhorst. Sustainability Analysis, since 2002.

2015-02-25

Heavy Fuel: European Comission favours Energy Union

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reprint Energy is used to heat and to cool buildings and homes, transport goods, and power the economy. But with ageing infrastructure, poorly integrated markets, and uncoordinated policies, our consumers, households and businesses do not benefit from increased choice or from lower energy prices. It is time to complete the single energy market in Europe. Delivering on this top priority set out in President Juncker's political guidelines, today the European Commission sets out its strategy to achieve a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy.

The Energy Union means in particular:
Solidarity clause: reducing the dependence on single suppliers and fully relying on their neighbours, especially when confronted with energy supply disruptions. With more transparency when EU countries make deals to buy energy or gas from countries outside the EU;
Energy flows, as if it were a Fifth freedom: that of free flow of energy across borders - strictly enforcing the current rules in areas such as energy unbundling and the independence of regulators – taking legal action if needed. Redesigning the electricity market, to be more interconnected, more renewable, and more responsive. Seriously overhauling state interventions in the internal market, and phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies.
Energy efficiency first: fundamentally rethinking energy efficiency and treating it as an energy source in its own right so that it can compete on equal terms with generation capacity;
Transition to a low-carbon society that is built to last: ensuring that locally produced energy – including from renewables – can be absorbed easily and efficiently into the grid; promoting EU technological leadership, through developing the next generation of renewables technology and becoming a leader in electromobility, while European companies expand exports and compete globally.

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In an Energy Union, citizens are at the core. The prices they pay should be affordable and competitive. Energy should be secure and sustainable, with more competition and choice for every consumer. These and other commitments sit alongside an action plan to meet these ambitious goals in our energy and climate policy. Jean-Claude Juncker, Commission President, said "For too long, energy has been exempt from the fundamental freedoms of our Union. Current events show the stakes – as many Europeans fear they may not have the energy needed to heat their homes. This is about Europe acting together, for the long term. I want the energy that underpins our economy to be resilient, reliable, secure and growingly renewable and sustainable." Maroš Šefcovic, the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union said: "Today, we launch the most ambitious European energy project since the Coal and Steel Community. A project that will integrate our 28 European energy markets into one Energy Union, make Europe less energy dependent and give the predictability that investors so badly need to create jobs and growth. Today, we set in motion a fundamental transition towards a low-carbon and climate-friendly economy, towards an Energy Union that puts citizens first, by offering them more affordable, secure, and sustainable energy. Together with all other Commissioners who have worked closely on the project team, and with the support of the entire Commission, I am determined to now turn this Energy Union into reality." Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said: "Let's get down to work. Today we have set the course for a connected, integrated and secure energy market in Europe. Now, let's make it happen. Our path to real energy security and climate protection begins here at home. That's why I will focus on building our common energy market, saving more energy, expanding renewables, and diversifying our energy supply. After decades of delay, we will not miss another opportunity to build an energy union. The Juncker Commission gets the big things right."

Key figures

● The EU is the largest energy importer in the world, importing 53% of its energy, at an annual cost of around €400 billion.
● 12 EU Member States do not meet the EU's minimum interconnection target – that at least 10% of installed electricity production capacity be able to "cross borders". The EU has listed 137 electricity projects, including 35 on electricity interconnection: between them, these projects could bring that figure from 12 down to 2 Member States. 


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2015-02-23

Construction Time Again: the Return of Nuclear Power

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reprint East–West nuclear rivalry is back. The Ukraine crisis threatens the nuclear governance. Demand for nuclear energy is growing again after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. A 2014 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts a 69 per cent expansion in nuclear capacity worldwide from 345GW in 2012 to 583GW by 2030. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency counts that more than three-quarters of nuclear reactors under construction are in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. China’s domestic appetite for energy accounts for much of this increase, with four to six reactors expected to be built every year for the next five years. Civil nuclear facilities in China incorporate technology from a variety of western suppliers, but Beijing has aggressively negotiated for intellectual property to be shared during the acquisition process. Westinghouse, for example, handed over designs of its AP1000 reactor to State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, providing China with a foundation from which it has developed its own pressurised water reactor technology, the Hualong One.
emergence of a new Cold War, and with it the return to a standoff between nuclear-armed opponents. Meanwhile, nuclear rivalry is shaping up in another arena: exports of civil nuclear technology represent a new battleground in which Russia – and increasingly China – are significantly outgunning the West, with troubling implications for global

This untested Chinese technology is being installed at a facility in Pakistan, although progress on construction was recently halted by courts in Karachi citing environmental concerns. Despite this setback, Beijing has ambitions to export nuclear technology on a large scale. The February merger of China Power Investment Corporation and State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation—designed to consolidate expertise in international technology transfer and nuclear power production—suggests that Beijing is positioning itself to increase international supply of its own nuclear technology in the future. An assessment of the dynamics of nuclear supply already provides difficult reading for Western suppliers such as Areva or Westinghouse, who are simply unable to compete with Chinese and Russian financing. According to data from the World Nuclear Association, Russia is currently building 37 per cent of the civil nuclear facilities under construction globally, followed by China with 28 per cent. Rosatom, the Russian nuclear corporation, has orders on its books worth US$100bn. Both Russia and China are offering prospective buyers, predominantly in emerging economies, generous financial support to gain access to a range of markets. Moscow has already transferred technology to Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela, and in November 2014 announced that it would build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, despite continuing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear intentions. A preliminary agreement signed last week between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi suggests this trend shows no signs of abating. In addition to the on-going relationship with Pakistan, China has also signed bilateral deals to provide new nuclear reactors to Argentina and is expected to be closely involved in the new nuclear build at Hinkley Point in the UK. While the Chinese contribution to the British facility will be financial, this is a likely precursor to an operational role at future UK nuclear sites, with the possibility of indigenously designed Chinese technology being installed on Britain’s east coast. Although nuclear exports are expected to generate profit, they are also strategic. Sanctions have driven Russia to use such deals to solidify relationships with states outside of Europe. For example, Moscow is establishing deeper ties with states in the Middle East and Latin America. China exports to Pakistan to balance its rivalry with India, straining if not ignoring international guidelines set out by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which oversees the trade of international civil nuclear technology. Suppliers are not supposed to export civil nuclear technology to states that have not signed the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Pakistan is one, alongside India, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan. Read on ... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com). Also read: [1], [2]


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2015-02-18

Back to the Future: BP Energy Outlook 2035

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reprint Global demand for energy is expected to rise by 37% from 2013 to 2035, or by an average of 1.4%/year, due in large part to ongoing economic expansion in Asia, particularly in China and India, according to the latest BP Energy Outlook 2035. Demand for oil is projected to increase 0.8%/year to 2035, coming entirely from countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Oil consumption within OECD peaked in 2005 and by 2035 is expected to have fallen to levels not seen since 1986. China by 2035 is likely to have overtaken the US as the world’s largest single consumer of oil. The recent worldwide rise in oil supply stemming in large part from strong growth in tight-oil production in the US, meanwhile, is likely to take several years to work through, BP indicates in its outlook. Tight-oil production in 2014 drove overall US oil output higher by 1.5 million b/d—the largest single-year rise in US history. But further out, BP notes, the growth in tight oil is likely to slow and Middle East production will gain ground once more. By the 2030s the US is likely to have become self-sufficient in oil, after having imported 60% of its total demand as recently as 2005. The outlook also projects worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to increase 1%/year to 2035—or 25% over the period—on a trajectory significantly above the path recommended by scientists as illustrated, for example, by the IEA’s “450 Scenario” (OGJ Online, Dec. 7, 2009).

Natural gas demand rising

Demand for natural gas will increase fastest of the fossil fuels over the period to 2035, rising 1.9%/year, led by demand from Asia, the outlook indicates. Half the increased demand will be met by rising conventional gas production, primarily in Russia and the Middle East, while the other half will come from shale gas. By 2035 North America, which currently accounts for almost all global shale gas supply, will still produce about 75% of the total.

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As demand for gas grows, there will be increasing trade across regions and by the early 2020s, Asia-Pacific will overtake Europe as the largest net gas importing region. The continuing growth of shale gas also will mean that in the next few years, North America will switch from being a net importer to net exporter of gas, BP says. The overwhelming majority of the increase in traded gas will be met through increasing LNG supplies. Production of LNG will show dramatic growth over the rest of this decade, with supply growing almost 8%/year through the period to 2020. This also means that by 2035 LNG will have overtaken pipelines as the dominant form of traded gas, BP says. Increasing LNG trade will also have other effects on markets. Over time it can be expected to lead to more connected and integrated gas markets and prices across the world. And it is also likely to provide significantly greater diversity in gas supplies to consuming regions such as Europe and China. Read the entire outlook... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com).


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2015-02-13

The Carbon Bubble: Concept, Hype or another Sort of Reality?

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reprint The so-called “carbon bubble” is no longer a concept, it’s a reality, according to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who will oversee the crucial UN climate conferencein Paris in December.

Investors who sunk their money into the fossil fuel sector are going to come up losers, she suggested, as plummeting oil prices have made new extraction projects too costly to continue to pursue and concerns about global warming have made them too risky. “A lot of the stranded asset conversations we’ve been having for a long time are now coming true,” she told RTCC, speaking from the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. “Those expensive oil projects—deep sea, Arctic, tar sands—those are actually beginning to be taken off the table because of the low oil prices.” That’s good news for the environmental groups that have long warned about “stranded assets”—coal, oil and gas that would have to be left in the ground to slow climate change—and how that was leading to an overvaluation of these reserves. RTCC cited a number of expensive exploration and extraction projects that have already been cancelled. Chevron has delayed plans to drill in the Canadian Arctic. Norway’s Statoil has returned three licenses to explore for oil off the Greenland coast. And Shell and Qatar Petroleum announced last week they were scrapping a planned $6.5 billion petrochemical project in Qatar, saying it was “commercially unfeasible, particularly in the current economic climate prevailing in the energy industry.” Qatar’s state-controlled petrochemical company Industries Qatar abandoned plans for another $6 billion plant last September. Many of these projects were planned when oil was $100 a barrel. It’s now under $50. In the U.S., Texas is feeling the brunt of the oil bust, as extraction companies lay off workers. The New York Times reported yesterday, “With oil prices plummeting by more than 50 percent since June, the gleeful mood of recent years has turned glum here in West Texas as the frenzy of shale oil drilling has come to a screeching halt. Every day, oil companies are decommissioning rigs and announcing layoffs. Small companies that lease equipment have fallen behind in their payments.” And the once seemingly unstoppable growing of fracking in North Dakota’s Bakken shale region has also come to a screeching halt. Carbon Tracker Initiative, a independent nonprofit think tank that analyzes energy from both an environmental and financial standpoint, coined the term “carbon bubble” and has continuously warned investors about the risks of sinking money into fossil fuel-related businesses, due to the 2c target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. “If the 2C target is rigorously applied, then up to 80 percent of declared reserves owned by the world’s largest listed coal, oil and gas companies and their investors would be subject to impairment as these assets become stranded,” the group said in its report Unburnable Carbon. Read on ... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com).


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2015-01-29

Radioactive? On the Role of Nuclear Power in UK

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reprint The global rebirth of nuclear power was meant to be well under way by now, writes Jim Green. But in fact, nuclear's share of world power generation is on a steady long term decline, and new reactors are getting ever harder to build, and finance. The only real growth area is decommissioning, but that too has a problem: where's the money to pay for it? The UK's planned Hinkley C nuclear plant is looking increasingly like a dead duck - or possibly parrot.  As the Financial Times reports today, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has abandoned plans to examine the 'value of money' Hinkley C offers taxpayers - because no deal has been reached and none is expected before the general election in May. In other words, all that bullish talk about Hinkley C launching Britain's 'nuclear renaissance' has melted away like a spring frost in the morning sun. There is no deal on the table for the PAC to examine - indeed it's looking increasingly as if there may never be a deal, in spite of the astonishingly generous £30 billion support package on offer, at the expense of UK taxpayers and energy users.  Only last week Austria confirmed that it will launch a legal action against the Hinkley C support package, on the grounds that it constitutes illegal state aid. The action looks likely to succeed - and even if it doesn't, it's predicted to ensure at least four years of delay.

But it's not just in the UK that the nuclear renaissance has hit the rocks. Global nuclear power capacity remained stagnant in 2014 according to the World Nuclear Association:


⬛ Five new reactors began supplying electricity and three were permanently shut down.
⬛ There are now 437 'operable' reactors compared with 435 reactors a year ago. Thus the number of reactors increased by two (0.5%) and nuclear generating capacity increased by 2.4 gigawatts (GW) or 0.6%. (For comparison, around 100 GW of solar and wind power capacity were built in 2014, up from 74 GW in 2013.)
⬛ Construction started on just three reactors during 2014. A total of 70 reactors (74 GW) are under construction.

Thus a long-standing pattern of stagnation continues. In the two decades from 1995-2014, the number of power reactors leap from 436 to 437. Ten years ago, the rhetoric about a nuclear power renaissance was in full swing. In those ten years, the number of reactors has fallen from 443 to 437. But despite 20 years of stagnation, the World Nuclear Association remains upbeat. Its latest report, The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030, envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors by 2030. Read on... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com).


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2015-01-22

Release Announcement: Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management Q04/2014
Managing the Urban Water Supply

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print download: http://bit.ly/185cRt9 Sustainable urban water supply represents a key issue today as well as in the near future. Often networks are out of date, leakage or plugging is a common issue and investments need to be considered very careful. In addition, the behaviour, i.e. the demand of the consumers varies strongly.
The present issue of the Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management (Q04/2014) – Managing the Urban Water Supply - tries to provide an overview of innovative articles addressing the above issues in-depth.
As always, a summary of news about the development of the web-portal is given. In the fifth year of its operation the platform is subject to a thorough re-design. This implies that the former _kt75 | mirror (http://kt75-mirror.blogspot.com/) is now integrated into the large information portal http://wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com. Via this portal a number of other services will be available in the near future. Definitely, the portal will go live fully functional as of 1st April 2015.

Content:

■ Hedging Supply Risks: An Optimal Urban Water Portfolio ■ An Overview of Hybrid Water Supply Systems in the Context of Urban Water Management: Challenges and Opportunities ■ Assessing the performance of urban water utilities in Mozambique using a water utility performance index ■ Water Supply Network Sectorization Based on Social Networks Community Detection Algorithms ■ Moving Towards Sustainable and Resilient Smart Water Grids ■ Scenario-Based Analysis on Water Resources Implication of Coal Power in Western China  ■ Analysis of the Possible Use of Solar Photovoltaic Energy in Urban Water Supply Systems ■ The Water Demand of Energy: Implications for Sustainable Energy Policy Development ■ Rogun Dam—Path to Energy Independence or Security Threat? ■ Global analysis of urban surface water supply vulnerability ■ Water on an urban planet: Urbanization and the reach of urban water infrastructure ■ Challenges for urban water supply: the case of Masvingo Municipality in Zimbabwe ■ (Book): Integrated Water Cycle Modelling of the Urban/Peri-urban Continuum ■ Investigating Transitions of Centralized Water Infrastructure to Decentralized Solutions – An Integrated Approach ■ Transitioning Towards Urban Water Security in Asia Pacific ■ A political–industrial ecology of water supply infrastructure for Los Angeles ■ The Economics of Groundwater Replenishment for Reliable Urban Water Supply …

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2015-01-19

Aquifer Recharge: new GIS-solution to provide for sustainable water supply
Japanese Experiences (sci paper).

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reprint Vulnerability assessment to delineate areas that are more susceptible to contamination from anthropogenic sources has become an important element for sensible resource management and land use planning. This contribution aims at estimating aquifer vulnerability by applying the DRASTIC model as well as utilizing sensitivity analyses to evaluate the relative importance of the model parameters for aquifer vulnerability in Kakamigahara Heights, Gifu Prefecture central Japan. An additional objective is to demonstrate the combined use of the DRASTIC and geographical information system (GIS) as an effective method for groundwater pollution risk assessment. The DRASTIC model uses seven environmental parameters (Depth to water, net Recharge, Aquifer media, Soil media, Topography, Impact of vadose zone, and hydraulic Conductivity) to characterize the hydrogeological setting and evaluate aquifer vulnerability. The western part of the Kakamigahara aquifer was dominated by high vulnerability classes while the eastern part was characterized by moderate vulnerability classes. The elevated north-eastern part of the study area displayed low aquifer vulnerability. The integrated vulnerability map shows the high risk imposed on the eastern part of the Kakamigahara aquifer due to the high pollution potential of intensive vegetable cultivation. The more vulnerable western part of the aquifer is, however, under a lower contamination risk. In Kakamigahara Heights, land use seems to be a better predictor of groundwater contamination by nitrate. Net recharge parameter inflicted the largest impact on the intrinsic vulnerability of the aquifer followed by soil media, topography, vadose zone media, and hydraulic conductivity.
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Sensitivity analyses indicated that the removal of net recharge, soil media and topography causes large variation in vulnerability index. Moreover, net recharge and hydraulic conductivity were found to be more effective in assessing aquifer vulnerability than assumed by the DRASTIC model. The GIS technique has provided efficient environment for analyses and high capabilities of handling large spatial data. Read on... (empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com).



2014-12-31

Oops! They did it again
LinkedIN continues to inactivate user accounts

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Have you also been informed that your LinkedIN account has been inactivated, at least temporarily? Did you also receive an e-mail that told you that "some members accused you to either spam, perform phishing or connecting with people you don't know"? Did the same e-mail ask you to confirm in written that you will adhere to the rules of LinkedIN? If so, you are in good company with many other concerned people. The common procedure is as follows:
  • the account is inactivated without any prior warning
  • the only contact path is directly via some sort of help center of LinkedIN
  • if happened for the second time or more, the individual request for re-activation of the account is processed rather slowly
  • the accusations are as always: spam, phishing or connecting with to many people and the accusations are not documented at all

This rather in-transparent and basically crude way of "coordinating" member behavior in principle must result in a functional loss of the usefulness of social media as such. Essential questions popup like:
  • How does LinkedIN evaluate accusations like spamming, phishing, wrong commenting, etc.? What are the benchmarks?
  • Who actually accuses? More and more one gets the impression that everybody can accuse anybody for doing wrong resulting in the inactivation of the respective member account.
  • What in terms of member participation is actually still allowed? 
  • Isn't it LinkedIN that encourages the members to network (today one simply can connect with almost everybody without indicating any reason like in earlier times)?
  • Isn't it LinkedIN that motivates the members to share comments as much as possible?
All this is basically frustrating and is in principle in contradiction to what social media was before. Though trying to think positive, the impression appears that inactivating member accounts may also be some kind of censorship. In the particular case important information provided by http://kt75-mirror.blogspot.ch/ about sustainable development (with a particular focus on sustainable water management) is suppressed. The publication of the Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management is hindered. And lively debates about sustainable development (including networking) is prevented. Question: is this the aim of social media? Just take into account: there is nothing about marketing a product (which would be spam if its done to often). There is nothing about stealing information (which would be phishing). There is nothing about connecting with to many people and there is nothing about flooding members with information (as posting is done 3 to 5 times a month at its maximum).

Feel invited to reflect about the above, comment it, share it, etc. and follow the further development of a new sustainability page.



2014-11-28

The Magic of 2050: A Tricky Transition From Fossil Fuel -
The Case of Denmark

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Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well.

Now a question is coming into focus: Can Denmark keep the lights on as it chases that lofty goal?

Let anyone consider such a sweeping transition to be impossible in principle, the Danes beg to differ. They essentially invented the modern wind-power industry, and have pursued it more avidly than any country. They are above 40 percent renewable power on their electric grid, aiming toward 50 percent by 2020. The political consensus here to keep pushing is all but unanimous. Their policy is similar to that of neighboring Germany, which has spent tens of billions pursuing wind and solar power, and is likely to hit 30 percent renewable power on the electric grid this year. But Denmark, at the bleeding edge of global climate policy, is in certain ways the more interesting case. The 5.6 million Danes have pushed harder than the Germans, they have gotten further — and they are reaching the point where the problems with the energy transition can no longer be papered over. The trouble, if it can be called that, is that renewable power sources like wind and solar cost nothing to run, once installed. That is potentially a huge benefit in the long run. But as more of these types of power sources push their way onto the electric grid, they cause power prices to crash at what used to be the most profitable times of day. That can render conventional power plants, operating on gas or coal or uranium, uneconomical to run. Yet those plants are needed to supply backup power for times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

With their prime assets throwing off less cash, electricity suppliers in Germany and Denmark are on edge. They have applied to shut down a slew of newly unprofitable power plants, but nervous governments are resisting, afraid of being caught short on some cold winter’s night with little wind. The governments have offered short-term subsidies, knowing that if they force companies to operate these plants at a loss, it will be a matter of time before the companies start going bankrupt. Throughout Europe, governments have come to the realization that electricity markets are going to have to be redesigned for the new age, but they are not pursuing this task with urgency. A bad redesign could itself throw customers into the dark, after all, as happened in California a decade ago. Denmark is geographically lucky. It has strong electrical linkages to neighboring Sweden, with plentiful nuclear power capacity, and Norway, with power available on demand from dams. But Swedish politicians have vowed to shut down the country’s nuclear plants and go renewable, and Norway’s cheap hydroelectric power is in rising demand, with a supply line under consideration to energy-hungry Britain. So the Danish electricity industry sees trouble coming. Read on and download the _kt75 | reflection on sustsinability.

2014-11-25

Hotspot III: 60 percent of the Middle-East wastewater is discharged to Sea
(report)

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Approximately 40 to 60 percent of the region’s waste water is discharged into the sea when it could be stored and reused for other purposes, according to ARCADIS’ 2014 Middle East Aquifer Recharge report.“The region should use treated sewage effluent (TSE) as the precious resource it is and stop thinking of it as waste or a useless by-product,” said Titia De Mes, Water for Industry Leader, Middle East at ARCADIS. “TSE can and should be recycled, but this requires a change in thinking from being a choice and a cost to a necessity and investment – the optimal choice for the Middle East is aquifer recharge and recovery.”
The report reveals that merely 60 percent of TSE could be stored in the aquifer and used at a later time through various approaches, highlighting three different methods to aquifer recharge – aquifer storage and recovery; aquifer storage transfer and recovery and aquifer recharge and recovery. The different techniques involve water that is re-injected back into the aquifer for later recovery whether it is used by a single well, stored for a prolonged period and pumped through another well, enabling natural treatment or built with infrastructure or an existing landscape, such as a wadi, to enhance groundwater infiltration, also enabling natural treatment.
Furthermore, the report highlights the key discrepancy of TSE planning and implementation across the GCC countries. Abu Dhabi and Doha are currently pumping excess desalinated water in the aquifer to act as emergency storage whereas other key cities are still in the middle of research for the use of TSE.
De Mes continues, “The outcomes of aquifer recharge are good for countries economically and environmentally – saving costs, reducing the carbon footprint and improving the environment. Whilst the region is progressing, there is still an essential requirement for overcoming constraints – the next step involves engaging the regional water community, government bureaus and ministries and associated industries in a conversation that can lead to implementing rules and regulations.”
The Middle East has a large amount of prospects in the water space, especially when it comes to optimising TSE utilisation.  It is the duty of industry experts to drive environmental change, local development and ultimately create sustainable solutions. Read the entire report... and download the recent issue of the Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management.
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