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Energy and greenhouse-gas emissions in irrigated agriculture of SE (southeast) Spain. Effects of alternative water supply scenarios

Publication date: Available online 7 October 2014
Source:Energy
Author(s): B. Martin-Gorriz , M. Soto-García , V. Martínez-Alvarez
Global warming is leading to a water resources decrease in the Mediterranean basin, where future farming resilience depends on incorporating alternative water sources and improving water-energy use efficiency. This paper assesses water and energy consumption when natural water sources are partially replaced by desalinated sea water. Initially, energy consumption, water supply and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions were recorded for the current farming practices in SE (southeast) Spain. The results of our study indicate that citrus orchards have the lowest energy consumption and GHG emissions. Annual vegetables were the least energy efficient crops. Subsequently, two alternative water supply scenarios were analysed, in which the reduction of natural water resources associated to climate change was compensated with desalinated sea water. The use of 16.8% of desalinated seawater would increase energy consumption by 32.4% and GHG emissions by 19.6%, whereas for the use of 26.5% of desalinated seawater such increases would amount to 50.0% and 30.3%, respectively. Therefore maintaining irrigated agriculture in water-stressed regions by incorporating high energy demanding non-traditional water sources could negatively contribute to combat global warming.


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