Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Electronic address: [Email]
The paper introduces a holistic framework that identifies the links between energy and other systems (water, land, environment, finance, etc.), and measures the impact of energy portfolios, to offer a solid foundation for the best sustainable decision making in energy planning. The paper presents a scenario-based holistic nexus tool, Energy Portfolio Assessment Tool (EPAT) that provides a platform for energy stakeholders and policymakers to create and evaluate the sustainability of various scenarios based on the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus approach. The tool is applied to a case study in Texas, USA. Scenarios considered are set by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): EIA Reference Case - 2015, EIA Clean Power Plan (CPP) & Reference Case - 2030, and EIA No-CPP & Reference Case - 2030. In the presence of the CPP, total water withdrawal is expected to decrease significantly, while total water consumption is projected to experience a slight decrease due to the increase in water consumption in electricity generation caused by the new electricity mix. The CPP is successful in decreasing emissions, but is accompanied by tradeoffs, such as increased water consumption and land use by electricity generation. The absence of the CPP will lead to an extreme surge in total water withdrawn and consumed, and in emissions. Therefore, conservation policies should move from the silo to the nexus mentality to avoid unintended consequences that result in improving one part of the nexus while worsening the other parts.