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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research

A modeling approach to the energy transition inside the Energy, Water, Food Nexus | Santiago David Vaca Jimenez

Santiago Vaca Jimenez
Santiago Vaca Jimenez

Field | Discipline



Together, population growth, urbanization and climate change, represent an important challenge for human development. The first two will affect the demand on scarce resources as water, energy and food. The latter will likely affect the availability of those resources.

One of the most feasible solution to mitigate climate change and provide enough energy to a growing population is the energy transition. It is defined as the on-going process of modernizing and changing our energy infrastructure, and it is destined to cope with the increase of energy demand while mitigating climate change by reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions. However, the energy transition is going to change current resource consumption and might create more pressure in scarce resources. First, it will require a great amount of resources as new infrastructure and equipment have to be constructed and deployed worldwide. Then, new energy technologies will also require different resources to function; resources which are different and required in different quantities than current technologies.

Those relations between the energy transition and resource use could produce major tradeoffs among sectors (namely, Water and Food sectors). The order of magnitude of those tradeoffs are variable and depend on each region, so it is evident that there are not “one-size-fits-all” solutions to the energy transition. Taking into consideration that the relations between resource use within sectors are important, this project aims to answer the following question: “Considering specific regions, are the tradeoffs generated by the energy transition in the water and food sector relevant and significant considering a growing and developing world? And if so, which energy technologies, or mix of technologies, could generate less tradeoffs (or even obtain win-win solutions) between those sectors, in those regions?”

For this project, an integral WEF nexus framework is proposed in the context of the energy transition in conjunction of other external global drivers as population growth, climate change, urbanization and economic development.

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Last modified:11 April 2023 11.05 a.m.