Worldwide water shortage by 2040

Scientists urge energy alternatives

July 29, 2014


New research shows that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today.

Two new studies suggest a worldwide water shortage is less than three decades away, and that at least 30 to 40 percent of the globe will be struggling to meet supply demands by 2020.

Behind the research is a group of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and Virginia-based nonprofit CAN Corporation in the U.S.

The projections are based on current usage rates and the increasing reliance upon water for hydroelectricity and cooling more traditional power plants. As the need for water continues to grow, both for quenching the thirst of growing populations and as a source of energy, pressure on finite resources will eventually instigate a shortage.

The only energy systems that do not require cooling cycles are wind and solar systems, and therefore one of the primary recommendations issued by these researchers is to replace old power systems with more sustainable wind and solar systems.

It’s a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realize how much water they actually consume, explained Benjamin Sovacool, a professor at Aarhus University. And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon.

The researchers came to their predictions by comparing and contrasting a number of studies that looked at water usage in France, the United States, China and India.

Sovacool and colleagues suggest world leaders act fast to address these impending shortages by: improving energy efficiency; developing more efficient cooling cycles: tracking water use by power plants; abandoning fossil fuel facilities in water-stressed regions; and boosting investments in wind and solar energy.

If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage- even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price, Sovacool added. There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today. There’s no time to waste. We need to act now.


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