The digitalization of water, agriculture, sanitation and renewable energy at the World Water Forum

The 8th World Water Forum, organized by the World Water Council, will bring together public and private stakeholders and experts in the water sector (18-23rd March). In the United States, one in every five dollars invested goes towards sustainable investments. Private investment is essential to dealwith water challenges in agriculture, energy, human consumption and sanitation. The inefficient management of water, poor filtration and pipe leaks account for a loss of almost 35% of all water globally, amounting to losses of USD 14 billion a year (The World Bank).

The World Water Forum is the perfect setting to develop synergies between stakeholders, investors, and companies from the various sectors which water unites, and to further share successful experiences between all. For example, leading digital technologies have revolutionized the renewable energy and asset management sectors, and could be of great use in the water sector. These include the Internet of Things (IoT), asset management techniques and advanced data analytics such as those used by Google, Facebook, Amazon, as well as Smart Data and DAAS Services, which spearhead the approach of the German duo SAP and Kaiserwetter. These techniques have maximized the output of solar and wind plants, making them both cheaper and more efficient.

SAP and Kaiserwetter, leader in the technical and financial asset management of renewable energy using Artificial Intelligence and the IoT, will be attending the 8th World Water Forum to share the story of their ARISTOTELES platform. This platform allows solar and wind plants to be more profitable, and can also beapplied to optimizing and managing hydroelectric plants. This type of energy represents 54% of global renewable power, according to the REN21study. In addition, according to LNS Research, 35% of energy production companies have already invested in the Industrial Internet of Things.

The know-howinvolved in renewable energy asset management can also aid sustainable agriculture through the use of intelligent water irrigation systems. These systems allow water to be saved (using localized and pressure drip irrigation, amongst other techniques), and leaks to be detected. This same methodology is now being applied to solar panels and wind turbines, to ascertain which may beunderperforming. The World Bank calculated that around the world, between 25-35% of all water is lost due to leaks and bursts, which accounts for an annual loss of over 14 billion USD.

Artificial Intelligence andnew sensors can go even further: they can make climate predictions which allow the user to forecast and plan for the need for water irrigation or anticipate the need for financing in the case of disaster.They can also optimize the performance of publically financed companies or subcontractors in charge of sanitation in developing countries,which often struggle to be financially viable. In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on sanitation under current conditions, it would require 45 billion dollars of investment annually- five times more than the current level ofinvestment. As a result, it is essential to reduce costs and increase efficiency via the implementation of newtechniques.

The digitalization of water viaintelligent sensors and software has already been applied inpractical casesin both Europe and the United States, and has recently made its arrival in Latin America. The Latin America and Caribbean Water Centre is working with the Inter America Development Bank and other private companies in one of the first ‘digital water’ projects in New Leon, Mexico. This system, implemented in a state with seven dams, allows the measurement of the volume of water used by companies and their consumption of blue and green water, as well as providing information about sewage and detecting the chemical and biological compounds present in the water.

On the eve of the World Water Forum, the former Vice-President of the United States and environmental activist Al Gore has emphasized the importance of improved resource and natural element management, such as water and solar energy, in order to be energetically self-sufficient. “There is enough solar energy on Earth to be able to meet all of our energy needs for a whole year”.