Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Entry for Blogger Competition - Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week

I haven't posted to Maria Energia in a few years - my pieces have mostly been appearing over on and But I've entered a blogging competition sponsored by Masdar City that could send me to Abu Dhabi to cover Sustainability Week there. The question to answer is: "What steps can individuals, businesses or world leaders take to address the most pressing and often interrelated water and energy challenges?"

Below is my response. To let me know what you think and/or rate the post, please go to my contest entry at Masdar City's contest site. Thank you!

Water and Energy: It's all in the Supply Chain

I love logistics, and the supply chain fascinates me. This may make me a dry dinner guest, but these industries are very literally what make our world work. And it’s where we need to start any conversation about water and energy challenges. First and foremost, policymakers and businesses need to get back to the basics and ensure a reliable distribution network to optimize how our resources are delivered. 

A smart distribution system – such as a smart electric grid or smart water network – helps utilities and cities address challenges like inefficient use, resource loss and unreliable service. Sensors that communicate real-time data to network operators can help identify power outages or water leakages more quickly. By pinpointing exactly where the problem is located, dispatchers can rapidly send out repair crews to return service. Some systems can even communicate directly with customers about estimated repair times.

Besides improving the reliability of electricity and water distribution – which is especially pertinent in emerging markets – smart network technologies can help manage demand by comparing current data with past trends. As data is shared across the network, operators can make better decisions about how to manage resources: Pumps can be adjusted to more efficiently meet water demand (for example, during the particular times of day when need is highest), or electricity can be redistributed across the grid to areas where the need is greater.

Unlike the smart electric grid, the public’s excitement and interest in smart water networks is relatively low. Much of the developed world has experienced a power outage; not a water outage. But anyone who wants a drink from a tap in their home – and that’s more of us, as demand in the next 20 years is expected to grow 40 percent, according to the 2030 Water Resources Group – should be just as interested in the logistics of water distribution as they are about exciting smart grid technology, like talking thermostats. And from a government perspective, the distribution of resources is far from simply a sustainability issue, but a basic revenue and business problem to be addressed as infrastructure ages and demand grows.

Many companies have developed the technology to get us to integrated, smart electric and water networks, and many cities have already started to implement them, from Charlotte, North Carolina in the U.S. to Sydney, Australia to Masdar City, U.A.E. These solutions will help create a better distribution system of resources that will ultimately be more reliable, efficient and affordable for the agencies that deliver them and the customers who expect them.

1 comment:

Ahorro electricidad said...

Good readind! Congratulations. nice blog!