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A GIS-based approach to inform agriculture-water-energy nexus planning in the North Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS)

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posted on 2020-09-02, 08:11 authored by Youssef Almulla, Camilo Ramirez, Konstantinos Pegios, Alexandros Korkovelos, Lucia de Strasser, Annukka Lipponen, Mark HowellsMark Howells
The North Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) is a vital groundwater source in a notably water-scarce region. However, impetuous agricultural expansion and poor resource management (e.g., over-irrigation, inefficient techniques) over the past decades have raised a number of challenges. In this exploratory study, we introduce an open access GIS-based model to help answer selected timely questions related to the agriculture, water and energy nexus in the region. First, the model uses spatial and tabular data to identify the location and extent of irrigated cropland. Then, it employs spatially explicit climatic datasets and mathematical formulation to estimate water and electricity requirements for groundwater irrigation in all identified locations. Finally, it evaluates selected supply options to meet the electricity demand and suggests the least-cost configuration in each location. Results indicate that full irrigation in the basin requires ~3.25 billion million m3 per year. This translates to ~730 GWh of electricity. Fossil fuels do provide the least-cost electricity supply option due to lower capital and subsidized operating costs. Hence, to improve the competitiveness of renewable technologies (RT) (i.e., solar), a support scheme to drop the capital cost of RTs is critically needed. Finally, moving towards drip irrigation can lead to ~47% of water abstraction savings in the NWSAS area.

Funding

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) through grants number: ECE/GC/2016/09/022 and ECE/GC/2018/02/005.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Sustainability

Volume

12

Issue

17

Publisher

MDPI AG

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by MDPI under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

2020-08-26

Publication date

2020-08-29

Copyright date

2020

eISSN

2071-1050

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Mark Howells. Deposit date: 31 August 2020

Article number

7043

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