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How the International Energy Agency Uses Aqueduct

The interdependency of water and energy is set to intensify in the coming years. Since 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has analysed this intersection in its World Energy Outlook, underpinned by WRI Aqueduct data.

In 2016, IEA undertook the first systemic global estimate of the amount of energy used to supply water to consumers. To do this, they used data from leading water institutions, including municipal water withdrawal and consumption projections from WRI. Their analysis showed that energy demand for the water sector will more than double by 2040, with the largest increase coming from desalination, large-scale water transfers and a rising demand for wastewater treatment.

IEA also used WRI data on future freshwater availability to examine the impacts of water stress on coal-fired power plants in China and India and to assess how different energy transition pathways and clean energy technology choices may impact future water use. Their analysis showed that constraints on water can challenge the reliability of existing energy operations as well as the viability of future projects.

The combination of water data from sources like Aqueduct with the best-available energy data is instrumental to the IEA’s analysis of the linkages, stress points and implications for energy and water security. This then enables them to advise policy makers and other stakeholders on how to address these risks.