A review of the water and energy sectors and the use of a nexus approach in Abu Dhabi

Paul, Parneet, Al Tenaiji, Ameena Kulaib and Braimah, Nuhu (2016) A review of the water and energy sectors and the use of a nexus approach in Abu Dhabi. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(4), ISSN (print) 1661-7827


Rapid population increase coupled with urbanization and industrialization has resulted in shortages of water in the Middle East. This situation is further exacerbated by global climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. Recent research advocates that solutions to the global water security and scarcity crisis must involve water–energy nexus approaches. This means adopting policies and strategies that harmonize these inter-related sectors to minimize environmental impact while maximizing human benefit. In the case of Abu Dhabi, when designing and locating oil/gas refineries and associated power generation facilities, previous relevant decisions were based on simple economic and geographical grounds, such as nearness to oil rigs, pipelines, existing industries and port facilities, etc. The subsequent design and location of water abstraction and treatment works operated by the waste heat from these refining and/or power generation processes was catered for as an afterthought, meaning that there is now a mismatch between the water and energy supplies and demands. This review study was carried out to show how Abu Dhabi is trying now to integrate its water–energy sectors using a nexus approach so that future water/power infrastructure is designed optimally and operated in harmony, especially in regard to future demand. Based upon this review work, some recommendations are made for designers and policy makers alike to bolster the nexus approach that Abu Dhabi is pursuing.

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