event 15 Nov 2016

Renewable Energy // Nexus-friendly Pathways for Growth

By Frank Wouters and Divyam Nagpal. The interlinkages between the three systems will grow stronger. By 2035 water withdrawal for energy is projected to rise by 20 percent, with consumption increasing by 85 percent. Similarly, water needs for agriculture and domestic purposes will increasingly be met through resources that are harder to reach and more energy-intensive to exploit. Producing more food will require land, water and energy inputs, with potential trade-offs involving the increasing use of bioenergy. Renewable energy technologies can be an optimal solution to reduce strains on specific elements of the Nexus and enhance security.

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(C) flickr / BlackRockSolar
The rapid adoption of renewables over the past decade has been driven by ambitions to improve energy security, expand energy access, mitigate climate change and stimulate socio-economic development. The distributed, sustainable, environment- friendly and less resource consumptive nature of renewable energy means that they can also reduce strains on specific elements of the Nexus. They can further sustainable development objectives and assist governments in optimizing resource security across all sectors. However, quantitative and qualitative knowledge on the role renewables can play in addressing Nexus-related challenges remains dispersed and limited. As a first step towards bridging the knowledge gap, IRENA undertook a study entitled ‘Renewable energy and the Nexus’ to bring to the forefront the opportunities presented by renewables. The report adopted a life-cycle approach to identifying renewables intervention in the water and food sector. This chapter presents some of the key findings from the study.


Frank Wouters possesses over twenty-five years of international experience in the field of energy. He held several senior management positions in leading organizations and institutions in the fields of energy and sustainability, including Evelop International BV in the Netherlands, Econcern in Germany, NICE International in The Gambia, and TDAU at the University of Zambia. He currently provides strategic support to companies and organizations developing sustainable energy businesses worldwide, with a focus on structuring and finance. Wouters has worked throughout his career with a wide variety of stakeholders, including the private sector and government officials at the highest levels. From 2009 to 2012 he served as the Director of Masdar Clean Energy, a developer and operator of renewable power generation projects, where he was responsible for projects representing enterprise value of more than $3 billion in Asia, Africa and Europe. He was appointed Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in September 2012, a position he held for two years. Divyam Nagpal is an Associate in IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre. Within the Policy Unit he works on a broad range of projects, including renewable energy policy assessment, off-grid renewables for energy access, and the Water, Energy and Food Nexus. He has co-authored several publications, including IRENA’s recent publication on renewable energy in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus.




The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus: Challenges and an agenda for action. Edited by Felix Dodds and Jamie Bartram. London, New York 2016, pp. 163-175

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