The energy / water / food nexus

The interdependence of food production with the energy industry and water availability cannot be understated. Both energy and food depend on water. Agricultural production, especially conventional agriculture, depends greatly on the availability of energy, for the manufacture of agro-chemicals, particularly nitrogen fertiliser as well as the operation of farm machinery and transport of agricultural produce.

Water, the most essential component of life on earth, is also (as freshwater) an essential component of the agricultural systems from which the majority of the world’s food is produced. Agriculture is the largest source of consumptive water use in the world. Much of this is due to irrigation of arable crops. Evapotranspiration from the growing crops and soil evaporation fom soil are major causes of water loss from local ecosystems.

The other well known source of food – seafood – relies on water (saltwater) of course!

The energy industries rely on large volumes of water for cooling or for production of various fuels. The need for energy in order to ensure fresh water provision is often overlooked. Many rivers rely on cleaned effluent from wastewater plants to maintain their flow. Wastewater treatment uses significant amount of energy to run the carious processes necessary for the water purification.

There are many other ways in which these three components are inextricably interlinked.



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