Nexus, the keystone for a sustainable future
Water, energy and food are essential elements for our wellbeing, for tackling poverty and for the spreading of sustainable development. These are all deeply intertwined in a Nexus that Enel Green Power has started to study in depth as a way to foster its future business strategy in the African continent.
Forecasts on a global scale point out how demand for fresh water, energy and food will grow dramatically in the next decades. This isn’t caused by a rise in population alone, but also from other factors like the subsequent economic and urban development, the rising demand for diversified staples and diets, climate change as well as resource degradation and scarcity.
Agriculture literally “gulps down” 70% of total surface and aquifer water. At the same time, food production and its distribution chain account for at least 30% of global energy consumption.
Starting from this set of data, EGP couldn’t remain unfazed by the Water, Energy, Food (WEF) nexus, with its very strict correlation duly explained in this graph.
Water is at the core of simply everything and its bond with energy and food is inseparable. Without energy, water can’t be treated, drained, desalinated and distributed to make it drinkable. At the same time, water is an essential factor in the energy generation process as it serves purposes of cooling, extraction and transport.
On the other hand, food production needs the redemptive power of water for irrigation which in turn needs energy to work, while other energy intensive tasks are fertilization, as well as the gathering and conservation of raw or processed foodstuffs.
All vegetable materials, animal fats and waste products, organic elements in waste waters and all residues of biological origin concur to form the total available elements that make up the production of bioenergy. This is a textbook example of a nexus.
Knowing the nexus to discover it
If untying the knot that binds water, food and energy together seems downright impossible, using them to benefit sustainable development is an ever demanding challenge.
Africa’s food and water sectors still haven’t seized renewables as a founding pillar of their development strategy. Starting from the Sustainable Development Goal number 7 (Clean and accessible energy), EGP has chosen to explore the boundaries of this nexus with the help of RES4MED&Africa.
This is a complex paradigm shift, although it’s one that can be triggered through studies and projects in collaboration with international development institutions that operate in the food and water sectors.
Its purpose is to demonstrate, with the backing of solid data, that the nexus can deliver new life and provide access to fresh financial backing to all actors at play in the renewable energy camp. All of this, while acting as the enabling factor for the future of sustainable development in Africa.
“Nowadays renewables are the fastest and most affordable sustainable energy solution to ensure energy access in Africa; but there are still challenges to face in terms of policy, financial and regulatory framework in order to foster adequate investments.”
– Lamberto Dai Pra’, Head of EGP for Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Australia
The Nexus was the centerpiece ofthe conference titled The Role of Renewable Energy: Business Empowering which took place on May 16 at Rome’s Exhibition center.
A fruitful morning where all participants went their way to blaze the path of an innovative approach, that strives to foster a truly sustainable development through novel financial instruments that suit Africa’s local legislative frameworks supporting investments in renewables.