Water, Endemic Scarcity: The industry can do more. Here's how innovation helps protect the blue gold

28 June 2023

Water, Endemic Scarcity: The industry can do more. Here's how innovation helps protect the blue gold

By Raffaello Magaldi (Executive Vice President Commercial & Technical Operations Magaldi Green Energy)

 

Responsible use of resources can only start with the "lifeblood" of the planet, otherwise, water scarcity risks becoming "endemic." This was recently highlighted by the United Nations in the World Water Development Report 2023. According to the Report, water usage has globally increased by about 1% each year over the past 40 years, and it is estimated to continue growing until 2050 due to population growth and changes in resource consumption patterns. We will be more numerous and consume more than previous generations. It is clear that this is no longer a sustainable situation, not only for economic and social reasons but, above all, for moral reasons. No one has the right to compromise the future of those who come after us.

The scenario in Italy is also worrisome. According to the latest data compiled by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), in the last climatological thirty-year period from 1991 to 2020, water availability has decreased by 20% compared to the historical reference value of 550 mm. Yet, as highlighted by journalist Ferruccio de Bortoli in a recent editorial in Corriere della Sera, "in the public debate, there is a guilty and inexplicable fatalism that borders on collective and individual irresponsibility. As soon as there is a little rainfall, the emergency mysteriously vanishes". I don't know if I should call it "irresponsibility," but it is certain that despite everything, Italy remains one of the highest water consumers in the European Union: we consume approximately 225 liters per capita per day, compared to a European average of about 140 liters.

It is clear that a change of direction is necessary, and to accomplish that, a new mindset is paramount. The industry has the potential to play a crucial role in driving change. Water withdrawals for industrial use, in fact, account for approximately 17% of total water withdrawals in high-income countries. Industrial water use in Europe represents 28% of annual water consumption. It is predominantly utilized for cooling in nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, as well as for hydroelectric power generation (European Environment Agency).

Our Group has been working on this aspect for decades. We highly prioritize the environment and the preservation of Earth's most precious resource, the blue planet. Developed in the 1980s, our patented Magaldi MAC® Dry bottom ash handling system is a technology that prevents pollution by keeping large quantities of water separate from the ashes. Once cooled, the gathered ashes are repurposed as an additive in cement, whereas previously, they would be disposed of in landfills or even dumped into oceans and rivers. Meaningful change is in the industry's power, and everyone can make a difference.

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