Water-Energy Pathways

The world’s first coast-to-coast ship canal, Forth & Clyde, transported ships through 11 locks that required one day and 3,500 metric tons of water to achieve the 115 feet change in elevation. A decision to restore this historic waterway resulted in The Falkirk Wheel - the world's first and only rotating boat lift that applies well known physical principles in a new and existing way. Instead of using locks, the wheel balances 2 gondolas at opposite ends that rotate to deliver the floating contents of each gondola to either canal. Each lift is now achieved within 4 minutes and uses only 1.5 kilowatt hours! The Falkirk Wheel, an icon of millenial water-energy ingenuity (photo courtesy of Sean McClean)

The world’s first coast-to-coast ship canal, Forth & Clyde, transported ships through 11 locks that required one day and 3,500 metric tons of water to achieve the 115 feet change in elevation. A decision to restore this historic waterway resulted in The Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first rotating boat lift. The Falkirk Wheel applies in an innovative way (see how it works here). Instead of using locks, the wheel balances 2 gondolas at opposite ends that rotate to deliver the floating contents of each gondola to either canal. Each lift is now achieved within 4 minutes and uses only 1.5 kilowatt hours!

 

The water and energy sectors are natural partners: each depends on the other to reliably and economically provide products and services essential to achieving their respective missions. Yet, although numerous studies indicate that considerable incremental resource, economic and environmental benefits could be achieved through integrated management of water and energy resources, many hurdles will need to be overcome before the multiple benefits of the water-energy nexus can be realized.

There has been no lack of innovation – over the past decade, many stakeholder forums convened across the U.S. to identify creative nexus opportunities. Neither is there lack of interest and commitment – both the water and the energy sectors have willingly come to the table to collaborate on strategies for leveraging the nexus to achieve the next generation of resource efficiency. In fact, the key barriers to implementation lie primarily in well-established traditions of separate planning and management of water and energy resources.

Ultimately, maximizing the joint benefits of water and energy will require new policy and regulatory frameworks that enable optimizing investments across both resources, and potentially also across the multiple utilities, agencies and jurisdictions charged with developing and delivering these resources. In order to do that effectively, new metrics and tools are needed that enable evaluating multiple value streams from cross-cutting programs.

Water Energy Innovations is dedicated to building pathways to implementation that help to achieve the full potential of our nation’s water-energy nexus. Through this website, we will provide information about water-energy initiatives across the country with the goal of helping to foster collaboration. We will also highlight best-in-class policies, programs, practices and projects to help identify and promote proven strategies.

Join the collaboration: send your “best-in-class” water-energy policies, programs, practices, models and tools to: info@waterenergyinnovations.com.

 


 

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