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A new research on water-energy nexus shows how to develop synergies for sustainability

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Enel Foundation, in partnership with Althesys Strategic Consultants, has carried out the study Energy for water sustainability, a research that aims to display possible synergies between hydro and electrical sector in order to develop sustainability in both industries. Our Deputy Director Giuseppe Montesano and Alessandro Marangoni, CEO of Althesys Strategic Consultants, presented the study during a webinar on October 21, in which they drew with other stakeholders a possible national strategy for water supply security.

The study faces water-energy nexus in Italy and aims to propose policies and best practices that will foster actions and investments for managing and making a better use of both water and energy. In this direction, the research shows how considering water and energy resources in an integrated way can help achieve several sustainability goals. It also describes all needed actions to strengthen synergies between the two industries.

Climate change is causing extreme phenomena such as drought and flood, which impact on hydro-resources and the electrical sector. Worldwide, governments, industries and stakeholders are trying to face the problem by studying the situation and proposing solutions such as Enel Foundation, CESI and Res4Africa did for Zambia. Although European and Italian contexts are different, the need to move towards sustainability by using all the available resources is the same.

The water-energy nexus shows how the electrical sector can offer its contribution to preserve water and to optimize its consumption to reduce consequences on the territory. By describing the European hydro-resources and then focusing on the Italian case - Italy has one of the richest water supplies in Europe - the research Energy for water sustainability shows how working on optimizing resources management could lead to a superior sustainability.

In Italy the hydro sector presents critical issues as well as excellence cases. Electrical solutions can optimize water management and, at the same time, hydro infrastructures can offer chances to further develop the electrical system. The study examines electrical industry’s role in improving water sustainability: new paths of water supply and water saving can be opened by leveraging different areas of electricity know-how and new technologies, such as in desalination, renewables, and pumped storage and by optimizing the use of big reservoirs for agriculture and to preserve the land.

“The study we’ve conducted with Althesys proves how the ongoing transition toward a more sustainable energy model can produce value and opportunities, along with bringing positive externalities that will go way beyond this specific sector. In particular, the development of renewables and innovative solutions capable of increasing the efficiency of water usage can significantly contribute to water saving and to the environmental protection of the territory, within the broader commitment of facing climate change.”

Giuseppe Montesano, Enel Foundation Deputy Director

Enel Foundation and Althesys Strategic Consultants also put forward several policies to help guide stakeholders towards a new direction. Given the extent of climate change, supply security is essential to defend the territory and must be the start of a series of win-win solutions that will engage different sectors (such as energy, industry, agriculture, utility). Enel Foundation has already worked on a study focused on the Belluno Province, that links the importance of preventing climate change’s consequences to investments on the territory.

Proactive policies are possible only by effectively involving all the players, and Energy for water sustainability recommends the possible areas of intervention to be framed in an organic, long-focused national strategy that needs to have short-term results.

“There are several articulate reactions to the growing impact of water stress related to climate change, but they will require long-term actions and significant investments. All of these reactions would though have a significant economic and occupational impact, while at the same time contributing to the improvement of the environment, the territory’s protection and citizen’s quality of life. Proactive policies are needed to engage different sectors in a coordinated way - like energy, industry, agriculture and utilities – via win-win solutions.”

 Alessandro Marangoni, Althesys CEO

During the webinar, Giuseppe Montesano and Alessandro Marangoni, presented the study. Then Stefano Besseghini, President of the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment (ARERA) described to other stakeholders how to create the water-energy nexus by following all the local rules. The webinar closed with a discussion moderated by Sona Baghdassarian (Staffetta Quotidiana) on the future of the study’s topic, attended by Carlo Tamburi, Director of Enel Italy, Francesco Vincenzi, President of ANBI, Stefano Masini, Head of Territory and Environment Area Coldiretti, Edoardo Zanchini, Vice President of Legambiente and Giordano Colarullo, General Manager Utilitalia.

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