Sustainable Water: Beyond Alternative Sources to a Change in Attitude

The escalating issue of water scarcity is no longer a distant concern but a present-day reality, impacting economies and livelihoods globally. A comprehensive study by a global management consultancy firm highlights the urgent need to address this issue, which could potentially cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP by 2025.

Last summer’s severe droughts across Europe, China, North America, and Africa were not isolated incidents but part of an ongoing global trend. These droughts underline the criticality of water in our economy, with sectors ranging from agriculture to high-tech industries severely affected. Agriculture, consuming 72% of all water, feels the brunt of this crisis, but the impact spans across various industries, including food, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

The study emphasizes the need for alternative water sources and large-scale behavioral change. It explores various options like rainwater harvesting, seawater desalination, and reusing treated wastewater (grey water). For instance, rainwater could provide an additional 30 million m³ annually in Flanders by 2031. However, challenges remain, such as the environmental impact of desalination by-products and the potential of grey water.

The report also sheds light on the significant amount of water lost due to leakages in the distribution network. Adopting smart technologies for monitoring and reducing leakages is crucial. The UAE has made strides in this area, with only 10% water lost to leakages, significantly lower than countries like the US, UK, and France.

But addressing the water crisis isn’t just about finding new sources; it’s about changing our consumption habits. The agricultural sector, for instance, must adopt modern water-saving techniques, like switching from flood to drip irrigation, potentially reducing water consumption by up to 60%. Companies across various sectors can contribute by redesigning production processes, rethinking product designs, and reusing treated wastewater.

Hani Tohme stresses the urgency of this situation. ” Water, an indispensable element of life, is currently caught in a risky balance. Where it is plentiful, it is often wasted, and where it is scarce, it is frequently overused. This contradiction underlines the urgent need for sustainable solutions and a comprehensive approach to preserve our most vital resource,” he warns. The study suggests implementing fines on water distributors for excessive leakages as a potential solution, citing Denmark’s success in reducing leakages by 8% through such measures.

Investment in water infrastructure is vital for ensuring a reliable and sustainable water supply. As climate change continues to strain our water resources, the need for innovation, coupled with a change in mentality and policy, becomes more critical.

The societal impact of water scarcity is profound, especially in water-stressed regions like the Middle East and North Africa. Droughts in Morocco and Iraq’s river and marshlands are leading to significant economic and social challenges, including mass exoduses.

In conclusion, this study is a call to action for governments, businesses, and individuals to rethink their relationship with water. By embracing new technologies, innovative solutions, and a change in mindset, we can combat the growing challenge of water scarcity and secure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Streamlining Water Treatment with Automation

The industrial landscape is rapidly evolving, demanding ever-increasing efficiency. Automation is emerging as a powerful tool for various industries, and wastewater treatment is no exception. Traditionally a multi-step process involving physical and chemical treatments, wastewater treatment facilities can significantly benefit from automation.

Why Automate?

Wastewater treatment plants are major energy consumers. Automation offers a solution through:

  • Reduced Energy Consumption: Blowers, responsible for up to 60% of a plant’s energy use, can be optimized for targeted aeration, significantly reducing energy costs.
  • Process Optimization: Real-time data allows for continuous process refinement, ensuring optimal performance and minimizing wasted resources.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Automation provides constant access to crucial data, enabling informed decision-making regarding chemical usage and resource allocation.

Benefits of Automation

  • Enhanced Insights: Facilitates data collection and analysis, leading to better problem-solving and evidence-based decision making.
  • Increased Treatment Capacity: Real-time data allows for process optimization, enabling treatment plants to handle larger volumes of wastewater effectively.
  • Modernized Systems: Integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructure, offering a modern upgrade without requiring a complete overhaul.
  • Reduced Operational Costs: Minimizes energy and chemical consumption, leading to significant cost savings. Predictive maintenance further reduces expenses by preventing equipment failures.
  • Improved Safety and Compliance: Precise control over treatment processes ensures consistent water quality and adherence to regulatory standards.

How Automation Improves Efficiency

  • Reduced Human Error: Minimizes errors associated with manual tasks and data collection, ensuring process stability and consistent results.
  • Faster Response to Fluctuations: Real-time monitoring allows for immediate adjustments to maintain optimal treatment parameters in response to changing water quality.
  • Data-Driven Optimization: Facilitates in-depth data analysis, enabling continuous process improvement and maximizing efficiency.
  • Remote Management and Control: Operators can monitor and control the entire treatment process remotely, ensuring prompt responses and informed decision-making.
  • Predictive Maintenance: Leverages data analytics and machine learning to predict equipment issues, preventing breakdowns and minimizing downtime.

The Future of Wastewater Treatment

Automation has revolutionized wastewater treatment by promoting efficiency, sustainability, and regulatory compliance. By embracing automation and supporting further research and development, we can ensure a future with clean water and a healthier environment.

Author Bio:

Lindsay Walker is the marketing manager for a Sacramento-based industry leader in designing advanced computerized maintenance management systems and asset management software tools for utilities, facilities, public works, manufacturing, and fleet industries. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys traveling and reading, which allows her to gain new perspectives and inspiration for her work. She is committed to creating content that connects well with her readers, enhancing their digital experiences.

Rooftop Solar Panels Could Power One Third of Us Manufacturing Sector

By Cait Cullen

  • Rooftop solar arrays have the potential to meet the annual electricity demands of up to 35% of US manufacturing sectors.
  • On-site sources of renewable energy currently supply less than 0.1% of industrial electricity demand in the US.
  • The industrial sector accounts for 38% of global energy consumption and 37% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Despite having the potential to cover 13.6% of the national electricity demand, rooftop solar arrays currently account for just 2.2% of the electricity grid mix.

Mounted on the rooftops of industrial buildings, solar panels could meet the entire electricity demand of up to 35% of US manufacturers. A new study, published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research: Sustainability and Infrastructure, investigates the feasibility of meeting these electricity demands through on-site solar panel installations for different regions and manufacturing sectors across the United States.

The study, led by researchers from Northeastern University, uses the US Department of Energy Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey to compare the potential electricity generation of rooftop solar arrays against the electricity demand per unit of floor space for the average manufacturing building. The results show that rooftop solar arrays could completely fulfil the electricity requirement of 5-35% of US manufacturing sectors depending on the season, with companies producing furniture, textiles, and apparels set to benefit most.

Dr Matthew Eckelman, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, says: “Currently, less than 0.1% of the electricity required by the manufacturing sector in the US is generated through renewable, on-site sources. This must change if we are going to meet decarbonisation goals, and in many cases rooftop solar panels are now a feasible option for supplying low-carbon energy.”

Globally, the industrial sector represents a large contributor to energy usage, and associated greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. As such, manufacturing has become an important target for global decarbonization efforts, with many companies switching to lower-carbon energy sources. The new study shows that rooftop solar panels could now be a feasible option for many manufacturing units due to their large, flat rooftops alongside falling prices, improved efficiencies, and flexibility in installation. Seasonally, manufacturing companies across nearly 40% of US locations could fulfil their electricity needs in the spring and summer time with rooftop solar arrays.

Eckelman concludes, “Greater policy attention on the feasibility and potential benefits of rooftop solar panel arrays will help industries to achieve renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals. Our research provides an indication of the locations and sectors for which rooftop solar arrays could significantly help manufacturing firms to reach these goals.”

Canada’s Trees in Growing Trouble

Almost One-quarter of Tree Species Now at Risk

By: “Wildlife Conservation Society Canada”

Almost one in four Canadian tree species is now at risk according to a new assessment of data from NatureServe Canada and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

“For a country so closely identified with forests, this is alarming news,” says Dan Kraus who led the assessment for Wildlife Conservation Society Canada as part of its ongoing SHAPE of Nature initiative.

Threats ranging from introduced pests and diseases to the rapidly growing impacts of climate change and land development are threatening to profoundly reshape the diversity of tree species in Canada’s forests.  Of the 57 tree species at risk in Canada, half are also considered globally imperiled.

Whether it is white ash in the urban forest that are declining because of the introduced emerald ash or high-alpine Yukon lodgepole and whitebark pine that are being squeezed out of the landscape by climate change, threats to trees are widespread and growing.

“There are still many actions we can all take to help protect the diversity of Canada’s trees – from increasing the diversity of species in tree planting projects and stopping the spread of invasive species to identifying Key Biodiversity Areas that harbor our most imperiled trees.” Kraus points out.

With 234 species of trees, Canada has rich arboreal diversity, but this diversity has taken an especially hard hit in places like southern Ontario and southern BC where forest clearing has left only tattered patches of woodlands. These are also some of the most “tree diverse” regions of the country.

“Trees are important to people in a multitude of ways beyond just being a source of products like maple syrup or lumber,” Kraus points out.  “They cool our urban areas, clean our air, filter our water and stabilize our soils. Just as importantly, being in the presence of trees makes us healthier both physically and mentally as a number of studies have now shown.”

There are lots of ways we can help trees.

  • Protecting rare species by using them to designate Key Biodiversity Areas.
  • Replanting a wide variety of native species.
  • Supporting work to collect genetic material from trees that are more resistant to pests and pathogens.
  • Thinking about how to help trees adapt to climate change, including by planting species outside their existing ranges and protecting climate refugia areas.

Renewables and the Rise of Clean Energy — How Economic Necessity and Climate Change are Increasing Demand

By Rick McElhinney

In the past 10 years, we have seen the conversation around climate change grow from the margins to the mainstream. Governments, corporates, NGOs, and individuals are embracing the scientific evidence around climate change and looking for solutions on an individual and collective level, with the conversation expanding from solar, to wind power, to pumped hydro’s possibilities. The UN’s COP27, robust scientific data, incentives for renewables and people power are driving the demand for sustainable, decarbonised power to fuel homes, suburbs, cities, and countries around the world.

The Smart Money is with Carbon Free Energy

Economic impacts are also driving interest and demand in renewable energy. Rising gas and oil prices, coupled with record profits by major oil suppliers, are making fossil fuels less attractive to consumers, producers, businesses, and the public sector. From the production side, renewables are becoming far more cost effective, thanks to increased economies of scale. From homeowners installing rooftop solar panels to governments greenlighting large-scale wind farms and pumped hydro projects, renewables are coming into their own due to their cost effectiveness over time.

The Bots Are Coming — Even to the Energy Sector

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to march out across industry, disrupting old ways of doing things, and the energy sector is not immune from this trend. AI will hasten the global energy transition, from demand-side flexibility to the efficient and effective optimisation and integration of variable renewable energy sources into the power grid. We need to see increasing collaboration between stakeholders across ecosystems if we are to expedite the deployment of AI and usher in a cleaner, more dependable, and less expensive energy future.

Hybrids Providing the Solution

As innovation in renewable energy technology reaches even more sophisticated levels, there will be a gradual shift towards adopting hybrid systems to power our homes. Hybrids like hydro-electric systems and pumped hydro are cost effective and highly efficient in delivering 24/7 carbon free energy1 to homes and communities when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow. And the ability to scale and replicate these technologies in a variety of applications will increase their desirability within markets.

According to Renewables 2019, a report from the International Energy Agency, almost 33 per cent of the world’s electricity is anticipated to come from renewable sources by 2024, with solar photovoltaic (PV) accounting for nearly 60 per cent (or at least 697 gigawatts) of the anticipated growth. Hydropower (121 GW), wind farms (309 GW) and biofuels (43 GW) are slated to also feature prominently.

In short, the rise of renewable energy is inevitable, spurred on by drastically falling production costs, rising concerns about climate change, changing global energy policies and increased investor pressure on businesses to implement environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. Combining these factors should make 2023 the year for more game-changing innovations, policies, and, importantly, progressive action for the global clean energy industry.

1 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy means that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumption is met with carbon-free electricity sources at every hour of every day, everywhere.

About Rick McElhinney:
Rick is an experienced entrepreneur, angel investor, recognized author, and speaker. His experience and interest in engineering and renewable energy provide background to his key skills in bringing start-ups to fruition through his business investment, financial management, and mentoring. Rick was a shareholder and CFO in a renewables energy company, which grew from start-up to in excess of $100m in revenues prior to its sale.

The Role of Wind Power in the Boating Industry

When you think of boating, you might think of it as a way to connect with nature. However, the energy needed to make it around a lake or ocean can produce some hefty carbon emissions.

We use boats and ships for activities like fishing and vacationing, but also for military operations, protection, and shipping. Lately, manufacturers have realized the benefit of investing in the oldest source of sailing energy: Wind.

The Power of Wind

You might think of wind energy as solely wind turbine farms. While those are doing a great job of reducing carbon emissions on land, they are far from the first technology that uses wind for power. Early seafarers used the wind to fill their sails and travel worldwide.

While, on land, turbines use heat to convert wind to energy, boats work differently. With modern technology, boats can harness the wind’s kinetic power to charge their batteries and keep them moving while nearly eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

The energy accumulates through the natural breezes you experience on the water and consistently charges the boat’s battery. The generator has propeller blades that spin and capture the wind’s energy. The turbines convert that energy to electricity, which is how the battery charges.

Current technology still has larger boats with backup engines because the wind power isn’t perfect yet. They operate similarly to a hybrid-electric car, utilizing non-renewable resources most of the time. However, ships relying on a more significant portion of wind energy recently came into production. The technology becomes more reliable daily, providing less fear of turbine failure.

Scientists have explored other options they can use to sustainably power ships, such as hydro generators and solar panels. However, wind energy is still the preferred method. It makes sense. The system is simple and frequent wind is almost a constant when sailing. Since the beginning of time, wind and sailing have gone together like sun and warmth.

The Future of Wind Energy and Boating

Wind turbines thrive on smaller vessels, but larger ships are beginning to use the wind to reduce carbon emissions.

In Sweden, Wallenius Marine AB is testing their new “Oceanbird.” The ship is one of the tallest sailing ships ever built and can carry up to 7,000 cars on board. The vessel relies mainly on wind power from specialized sails that collect the wind for energy. The ship still has a backup engine but aims to eliminate 90% of the carbon emissions given off by conventional boats.

Private companies aren’t the only ones looking to wind for large operations. The United States Marine Corps is also investing in clean energy to potentially power future vessels.

Choosing Wind Power

With wind turbine prices lower than ever, now is a great time to consider switching to wind energy for your boat. Marine wind power significantly reduces carbon emissions, allowing you to enjoy the environment and help preserve it for the future.


Author: Jane Marsh


Why Nuclear Deserves a Seat at the Table in Our Energy Future

Many people think of past nuclear disasters and automatically rule out this energy source for society’s future. But that’s a short-sighted viewpoint. Here’s a closer look at why we should seriously consider nuclear as a significant part of our energy plans.

Nuclear Power Supports Energy Security

Recent events have caused many people around the world to think more critically about where their energy comes from and how reliable those sources are. Research indicates that nuclear power was instrumental in helping countries recover from difficulties sustained in 2021. The data confirmed that Asia had the biggest increase in its utilization, showing a 10% rise during the studied period.

The statistics also showed a 1% drop in total global capacity for nuclear energy, although there was a 4% increase in production. Other findings were that nuclear energy reactors accounted for about 10% of the total global energy creation. Eastern Europe’s output was the highest in a decade, while the Middle East and South Asia had the biggest increases registered, each showing a 20% jump over the 2020 figures.

People in today’s world need assurances that they can get consistent access to energy when needed. Nuclear power can help provide it, and as this study shows, people in more places around the world realize that.

Nuclear Energy Supports a Sustainable Future

Many organizations steadfastly support the world’s ongoing transition to a more sustainable energy future. Consider that electric cooperatives comprise more than a third of the energy sector. Many of them either generate or procure renewable energy. Nuclear energy is not renewable because it needs finite resources.

Even so, it’s the world’s second-largest source of low-carbon electricity, with only hydropower accounting for more. Some people assert that nuclear power is an excellent backup source for countries already relying on wind and solar.

Researchers led a study that examined the feasibility of 42 nations in that position. They believed nuclear energy could be a low-cost power source and a natural gas replacement. The results showed that nuclear energy was the lowest-priced way to eliminate carbon emissions from electricity systems almost everywhere. Additionally, nuclear would speed the sustainable energy transition even faster in nations with less ability to rely on wind, such as Brazil.

Nuclear Energy Development Per Country Differs

The United States owns 96 operating reactors, accounting for 30% of the global total. But, even in the case of that country, plans are underway to make its nuclear utilization even more prominent.

In Finland, too, people in power are examining safer ways to utilize nuclear energy. One initiative is a six-year research program expected to include more than 150 researchers from numerous Finnish universities and other entities.

Hopefully, efforts like these could spur information-sharing. Then, best practices and takeaways could spread to other areas, making nuclear power safer for everyone.

Nuclear Power Is Worth Continual Investigation

The things mentioned here do not suggest that nuclear energy should be the world’s sole focus for clean power. However, it’s certainly worth careful consideration as people think about the specifics of our current and future energy requirements.

Author: Jane Marsh

The Future of Airborne Wind Energy

Sustainable inventions are supporting global emission-reduction goals, and government officials are working with environmental engineers to minimize energy-related pollution. Renewable energy advancements may effectively shrink the global carbon footprint.

Most energy worldwide derives from fossil fuels, but replacing nonrenewable sources with wind power can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Engineers are diversifying wind energy production with airborne additions.

Diversifying On and Offshore Wind Power

Environmental scientists are producing renewable energy with large-scale sails to minimize damage to biodiversity. Traditional wind turbines contribute to nearly 888,000 bat fatalities annually. Winged animals accidentally collide with turbine blades and towers, which causes severe impact injuries.

Airborne wind power devices produce electricity with kites instead of blades, and creating sustainable wind turbine alternatives can support green employment opportunities. Today, nearly 100,000 individuals work in the wind power sector. Developing more on and offshore wind projects requires engineers, installation professionals, maintenance workers and other employees.

Wind Energy’s New Look

Various companies are manufacturing airborne wind technologies. The designs replicate giant kites, looking different than the traditional three-blade turbine, and generate emission-free electricity a half-mile above Earth’s surface. Researchers are also looking into various forms of airborne wind energy, which includes kites, drones, and spinning hoops.

One of the biggest appeals of airborne wind energy is that turbines are limited due to the intermittent nature of wind at the height wind turbines stand. However, kites can fly at altitudes where wind energy is stronger and more consistent, providing more power than turbines are able to harvest.

Meeting Global Sustainability Goals

Using airborne wind technologies can help regions meet their sustainability goals. Increasing clean energy supplies may decrease society’s fossil fuel reliance, which is essential for global resource conservation.

Mining professionals use up to 62 gallons of water when extracting 1 million British thermal units (MMBtu) of oil. Fossil fuels are also depletable power sources, which decrease their longevity on the market. Power professionals can replace them with wind power to decarbonize the energy grid.

Countries are establishing carbon-neutral power goals to improve sustainability rates. The current administration set a 100% clean energy goal by 2035, which can be reached with the help of airborne wind technologies.

Developing Airborne Wind Farms

Energy professionals can use a tax credit to develop airborne wind farms. Government officials are financially compensating individuals for investing in clean energy systems, and people can take advantage of these incentives to cover initial setup fees. This eco-friendly energy source is a viable and affordable alternative to fossil fuels and paves the way for a greener future.

Author: Jane Marsh

Climate Change Is Altering the Future of Our Food System

When people talk about climate change, they are usually referencing the recent changes in average temperature, precipitation, and frequency of natural disasters as a result of an abnormally rapid increase in the average temperature of the earth’s surface.

In Earth’s history, the climate has been recorded to warm and cool over time, but the current change is happening too quickly as a result of human activity, and we aren’t seeing enough cooling. The disastrous effects are already being felt worldwide.

One human activity that is intertwined with climate change is farming. Humanity needs access to healthy foods, especially ones that aren’t contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals. But some conventional farming methods contribute to the greenhouse gas effect and, most significantly, are hindered by the effects of climate change, such as droughts, excessive rain, and extreme temperatures.

While more warm weather in some places may sound like a good thing for agriculture, the negative impacts of climate change will outweigh any beneficial ones. Not only do some conventional farming practices contribute to climate change, but they also become less productive as the climate changes. More and stronger natural disasters, including droughts, floods, forest fires, and hurricanes, damage crops and reduce farmers’ ability to grow.

Changing growing seasons and habitat ranges make it harder to grow crops because specific climates are needed for certain crops. For example, in the United States extremes in precipitation through decreased freshwater supply in the southwest and increased flooding in the northeast threaten crop productivity. Indirect impacts make agricultural production even more difficult. Pests, diseases, and invasive plants will all increase in abundance. And an increase in temperature can only lead to a decrease in the quality and quantity of food produced.

Changes in the ozone and an increase in greenhouse gases will continue to impact the future of our food systems. Food insecurity is a global problem that will be intensified as conventional farming becomes less productive. The supply chain is stressed, food availability will go down, and food will become more expensive, let alone there is a potential that an increase in pesticides and chemicals will be needed to keep produce and other foods healthy.

Current farming practices depend on reliable precipitation, predictable seasonal changes, and known temperatures and will have to adapt as global warming changes these previously reliable resources. One potential solution, vertical farming, eliminates the reliance on a variable climate by moving the agricultural production of specialty crops indoors. In order for us to stabilize our food supply, and have the ability to increase it as our population continues to grow, we need to invest more into more controlled ways to grow our food.

Author: Yaheya Heikal

The Internet of Things’ (IoT) Potential as a Catalyst for Environmental Good

By Alistair Fulton

The theme of this year’s Earth Day was “invest in our planet” – a fitting call to action for individuals, communities and organizations that, as a collective, contribute to human-caused climate change. According to the latest IPCC report:

  • If the Earth warms at 4℃, water scarcity and droughts will affect up to 4 billion people
  • Projected flood damages may be up to 2x higher at 2℃ warming
  • 58,950 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres in 2020

To manage our urgent climate issue, we must strike a balance between economic or productivity growth and reducing harm caused by that growth. This balance is delicate. This equation is not easy-to-solve; however, if we cannot invest in solutions that achieve “more from less,” then we cannot curb climate change at the pace our environment demands.

Much of the conversation has been focused on long-term answers involving energy, recycling, deforestation, and more – rightly so. But, how can we move the needle in the short term and mitigate minor inefficiencies that snowball? Realizing the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a system of technologies that provides data, analytics and insights to improve process efficiency, increase productivity and reduce waste. Traditionally, IoT’s potential has been limited because it was too hard to build, implement and scale.

This is no longer the case. Time, resources and smarts have gone into making this technology more accessible. Examples include maturation of cloud-based IoT platforms, lower power reliance of sensors, and changing global standards that allow technologies to work better together. Here are three examples of how the IoT is having a real, measurable impact on the fight against climate change:

  1. Water Conservation: Smart sensors fitted into water management systems, smart homes and buildings enable real-time monitoring of water usage to detect leaks and limit water
  2. Sustainable Farming: Farmers and ranchers can measure environmental conditions that influence crop production, track the health of livestock and create efficiencies that reduce environmental impact.
  3. Flood Monitoring: Sensors integrated with the IoT autonomously monitor rising sea levels, which are increasingly valuable in coastal regions with a high risk of flooding.

IoT is not the sole answer to our climate challenge, but this technology has untapped potential as a catalyst for social and environmental good. Investing in the right IoT is the answer to measuring our impact on the environment in real time, and the minor inefficiencies that equate to long-term climate problems.