As energy and water are closely linked to each other the tranformation of the energy sector can cause conflicts or synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water (SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation) and energy (SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy). Direct and indirect, remote impacts of renewable and conventional energy systems on global water resources and related usage competitions may increase under the terms of climate change. Intensifying the cultivation of energy plants or expanding hydropower may contradict the aim of global food security or other social and ecological development goals. Recent studies on global availability of water of appropriate quality display a trend towards regional scarcity. In the course of reorientating the supply with energy it has to be examined regionally and globally whether the availability of water or potential impacts on water resources can be limiting factors. When it comes to the realisation of the SGDs 6 and 7 (water and energy) possible conflicting goals or synergies have to be assessed.

Water and energy play a key role in the sustainable development of Germany and of the world.

What is the link between water and energy transition? The overall focus of the project will be the question, if reduced water availability limits the use of conventional energy systems and thus can accelerate the energy transition, or if it may decelerate it instead.

How does energy consume water in other countries? For the first time, impacts of energy production on water resources will not only be demonstrated locally and regionally (through the example of four case studies located in Germany (2), Brazil and Morocco). Moreover indirect, remote impacts on different regions throughout the world (e.g. through the usage of mineral commodities with high water demand) will be illustrated. Regional water availability will be considered to identify regions with water stress.

On which scale do we work? WANDEL follows a global approach with regional resolution: Not only hotspots of water availability along global energy supply chains shall be identified (e.g. specific process steps). There shall also be a spatial connection to identify regional hotspots of water availability (e.g. copper mining in Chile).

What do we want to achieve? Our claim is a global comparison of technologies and energy scenarios regarding water consumption by analyzing different data and models. Within the case studies (1) regulatory and technical solutions will be developed to reduce negative impacts, (2) qualified consulting services will be rendered and (3) results will be innovatively presented and provided in an Web-GIS.

The joint project WANDEL is funded by the Federal Research Ministry BMBF in the course of the support measure "GRoW - Global Resource Water" within the program "Research for Sustainable Development (FONA)" with about 2.5 million Euros.

  • Determination of direct and indirect, remote impacts of conventional (coal) and renewable energy systems (hydropower, biomass, solar thermal energy) on water resources
  • Identification of potential conflicting goals and synergies of the Sustainable Development Goals "Clean Water and Sanitation" (SDG 6) and "Affordable and Clean Energy" (SDG 7)
  • Development of technical solutions and governance instruments to reduce the impacts of energy production systems on a regional scale
  • Development of new approaches and methodes to analyse impacts of the energy-water-nexus

Overview and interaction of work packages in WANDEL.

The project is divided in five work packages: AP1 and AP2 determine the direct and indirect impacts of energy systems on water resources with the aid of four case studies. Additionally steering mechanisms to improve the efficiency of water consumption are developed. Results are used for global spatial analysis of water consumption in AP3. Local decision makers are provided with the results in AP4. The fifth AP includes the coordination of the project.

Rio dos Patos in the case study site Brazil.

In four regional case studies, the watersheds "Upper and Middle Weser river" and "Upper Danube river" in Germany as well as "Rio dos Patos" in Brazil and "Drâa-Valley" in Morocco, the direct as well as indirect, remote impacts of selected energy systems on the regional water situation will be demonstrated and evaluated.

Draft of the indicator system water-energy-security.

AP2 identifies necessary regulatory framework conditions to ensure achievement of the water and energy security objectives in the case studies and on a global scale.

Scheme of spatial localization.

AP3 carries out global simulations considering reference as well as low carbon energy and climate protection scenarios and describes the water consumption per year and region of the considered energy production systems.

Graue Weltkarte.

In AP4 results are made accessible globally through the geoportal "WANDEL-Share", published via the "Freshwater Information Platform" and the network "Global German Partnership" and exploited scientificly in science and teaching.