Department Seminar: Lu Liu
Title: Thirst for water and energy: technology-enabled solutions emanated from a deep dive into the water-energy-climate nexus
Abstract: Satisfying the demand for water and energy without sacrificing the environment is a central challenge of the 21st century. We build engineered systems to manage water and energy resources that intrinsically rely on one another – water is needed for energy production and energy is required for water service. Shortage of one resource will propagate to the reliable supply of the other. Such interconnections and interdependencies have not been considered in water and energy management in the past, which sometimes led to system curtailment or loss of productivity. Conflicts are further exacerbated under rapid population growth and urbanization, infrastructure aging and deterioration, threats of climate change, and lack of sustainable financial resources. Hence, my research is aimed at understanding the interdependencies and tradeoffs between water, energy, and climate systems and finding technology-enabled solutions to inform sustainable water and energy system planning. Specifically, my research examined water-energy system dynamics across different geospatial scale and technological granularity to provide perspectives for four distinct questions at the heart of the water-energy-climate nexus: 1) How vulnerable is the energy system to climate-induced water variability? 2) How is water limiting future energy system planning? 3) How to sustainably augment water supply? and 4) How resilient is unconventional water augmentation solution? I integrated method from water resources engineering, systems analysis, climate science, and integrated assessment to tackle the questions from interdisciplinary perspectives. My quest for answers resulted in two important outcomes: 1) enhanced understanding of the water-energy-climate nexus across different scales; and 2) the development of novel data-driven modeling tools and valuable databases to guide future water and energy system planning and next-generation technology development.