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Solar power could fight water scarcity in Mideast, North Africa

Thirsty Middle Eastern and North African countries could tap into their solar-energy potential to cope with fresh water scarcity, according to resource experts.
According to, water could be saved by switching to renewable solar energy from fossil fuel electricity generation that uses up water, said the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Tianyi Luo, a senior WRI manager, explained, “The findings show moving to clean energy has benefits aside from cutting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

"A lot of times, the water savings that kind of benefits from renewable projects are overlooked.”

Yemen, Oman, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, the UAE and Jordan ranked among the top countries, measured by lack of freshwater and solar energy potential that could benefit from such a switch, the WRI said.

Jordan Macknick, energy and water analyst at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said, "These countries have high-average resources for both solar and wind that could be put to very productive uses, and it could potentially assist them in their water-related challenges.”

Fresh and sea water is often used in the process of cooling fossil-fuel power plants, ubiquitous in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the World Bank.

Put another way, powering one 60-watt incandescent light bulb for 12 hours over one a year can consume 3,000 to 6,000 gallons of water, according to the US-based Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

Solar panels, meanwhile, require little or no water to install and maintain.

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