(C) Shoaib Sr, Unsplash

Water-Energy Nexus // Water for the Millions: Focus Saudi Arabia

By Dornadula Chandrasekharam. This paper investigates how Saudi Arabia can overcome its water and food security problem through using its potential of generating electricity from conventional geothermal sources. The generated electricity could be used for desalination processes, which currently rely on fossil fuels.

Food security is essential for any country. Due to the lack of water resources, countries rely on food imports to satisfy the needs of millions. Oil rich countries, like Saudi Arabia, imports agricultural products for the same reason. This is a short-term solution to circumvent the issue of water scarcity and in future such policy will push the country to desperation.

Saudi Arabia withdraws 20 billion m3 of groundwater per year, while the annual recharge of groundwater is only 2.4 billion m3. This additional quantity of groundwater is extracted from non-renewable (fossil) groundwater from trans-boundary Saq-Ram sandstone aquifer of Mesozoic age, with a proven reserve of 103,360 MCM. An amount of about 394 MCM/y flows out of the country. The current 17300 km2 of irrigated area will shrink in future due to water shortage, thus reducing the GDP contribution below 3%.

The best option is to harness geothermal energy to operate the desalination plants. Saudi Arabia can generate desalinated water at the rate of 0.03 US$/m3 (without subsidy). Saudi Arabia cannot afford to overlook this option.

At present, Saudi Arabia uses energy intensive thermal multistage flash desalination process, using 12 TWh of electricity generated from fossil fuels to desalinate 1 m3 of seawater. The electricity cogenerated during this process is insignificant compared to the cost of production of fresh water. Moreover, nearly 13 Mt of CO2 is being emitted during this process.



ScienceDirect (open access)


January 2019


Water-Energy Nexus (2019)

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Modelling and Assessment

Nexus Modelling // Towards Ranking the Water–Energy–Food–Land Use–Climate Nexus Interlinkages for Building a Nexus Conceptual Model with a Heuristic Algorithm

By Chrysi S. Laspidou, Nikolaos Mellios and Dimitris Kofinas. In this article, a practical heuristic approach for gaining a systemic and contextual perspective on nexus component interlinkages is presented, by building on a simple three-point typology of interactions. The approach is simple and can be applied in any case study a nexus analysis is pursued, regardless of data availability.

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Nexus Blog

Un Nexus pour les Organismes de Bassin au Sahel // Comparaison multisectorielle : OMVS - CBLT - ABN

Par Luca Ferrini (Représentant Dialogues Mondiaux NEXUS (Eau-Energie-Sécurité Alimentaire) dans le Bassin du Niger) et Lucia Benavides. Cet article fournit une analyse comparative du niveau d'intégration des différents secteurs dans les missions de trois organismes de bassin du Sahel : l'Autorité de Développement du Bassin du fleuve Sénégal (OMVS), la Commission du Bassin du Lac Tchad (CBLT) et l'Autorité du bassin du Niger (ABN). Il met en outre l'accent sur différents domaines d'intervention...

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Nexus Blog

A Nexus for Basin Organisations in the Sahel // Multisectoral comparison: OMVS - LCBC - NBA

By Luca Ferrini (Project Manager, Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme Niger Basin) and Lucia Benavides. This article provides a comparative analysis about the level of integration of different sectors within the mission statements of three River Basin Organisations in the Sahel: the Senegal River Basin Development Authority (OMVS by its French acronym), the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the Niger Basin Authority (NBA). It further stresses different focus areas of the mission statements,...

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