Water for Energy: Systems Integration and Analysis to Address Resource Challenges

Ashlynn S. Stillwell, Ahmed M. Mroue, Joshua D. Rhodes, Margaret A. Cook, Joshua B. Sperling, Tyler Hussey, David Burnett, Michael E. Webber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Water for the energy sector is an interdisciplinary challenge that requires new integrated systems knowledge, well-documented case studies that test various decision processes, and both quantitative and qualitative modeling and analyses to support sustainable decision-making. This review paper highlights water requirements of the energy sector and summarizes interdisciplinary research opportunities for sustainable and efficient management of water for energy, and new datasets to inform analysis of water policies and programs affecting energy systems. Recent Findings: The energy sector depends closely on water resources for primary fuels production (including extraction or cultivation, processing, and refining) and electric power generation in thermoelectric and hydroelectric power plants. While research in these areas has advanced significantly in recent years, questions remain regarding water quality and quantity impacts of emerging technologies and policies in the water-energy sectors, potential for use of alternative water resources, impact of energy portfolio transitions, and tools to aid decision-making under uncertainty. Summary: Water is essential for energy production and power generation processes. Projected transitions in energy portfolios and water for energy policy hold the potential to both mitigate or exacerbate water stress, therefore motivating a critical need for systems integration and analysis approaches that can guide the development of cost-effective, resource-efficient, and resilient systems and services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Electric power generation
  • Energy-water nexus
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Oil and gas production
  • Power plant cooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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