Water and Watts


Water and energy are inextricably linked: it might as well be water flowing through the overhead power lines and electricity dripping from our faucets. Much of our energy is produced with hydro turbines, and energy is required to purify and transport water. The Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) examines this complicated nexus in its recent online report, Water vs. Energy.

The report includes an interactive map detailing geographical hotspots where issues of energy and water use converge or, in their words, “where water meets watts.” Clickable locations provide summaries of the issues—for example, extraction of uranium from ocean water for nuclear fission in Japan or solar-powered desalination in Saudi Arabia—along with a prognosis based on riskiness, likelihood of success, and consequences of failure. Deeper analysis of each issue is available through hyperlinked feature articles.

This IEEE tool underlines one of the fundamental, and increasingly salient, concerns of the environmental movement: the challenges we face—in this case demand for water and energy—often revolve around a common axis.