Water-Energy Prize Encourages Innovation

Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green buildings - all are hot topics today as the public becomes more aware of its energy use and environmental impacts.  We focus on how we can reduce energy use in our homes, offices, cars, and appliances, yet there is a little known piece of the puzzle many of us are missing: water.  Supplying, treating, and delivering clean water to our population requires significant amounts of energy.  Additionally, significant amounts of water are required to produce electricity in our fossil fuel plants.  As water supplies dwindle and water and energy demand increases it’s clear that the water-energy relationship is going to be stressed; this is an issue we cannot ignore.

California consumes roughly 38 billion gallons of water a day to supply its cities and farms.  The electricity consumed by California's water infrastructure alone accounts for approximately 7.7% of state’s total electricity requirements.  In response to drought conditions and limited conventional supplies, water managers are increasingly looking to unconventional sources (such as desalination) that require significantly more energy per gallon than current supply options today.  If we continue down this path, supplying water in the future is going to require significantly more energy, further stressing the water-energy relationship.

While there has been wide scale innovation in the energy sector in the last several decades, the water sector has been lagging.  However, a group of experts, entrepreneurs, and volunteers aim to change that.  Imagine H2O recently launched its 2010 Water Energy Nexus Prize Competition, its second annual global business plan competition for water startups.  The 2010 competition will award $100,000 in cash and services to the world’s most promising water businesses that save energy.  Winners are also provided access to Imagine H2O’s Incubator Program that provides free start up services and connections to water leaders, potential customers, and financiers.

This competition is a great opportunity for start-ups looking for assistance in developing their ideas and technologies into successful companies.  Last year, fifty entrepreneurs applied for Imagine H2O’s 2009 award (aimed at water efficiency).  The competition awarded its grand prize to Fruition Sciences and named two runners up:  Rainwater HOG and WaterSmart Software Inc. Follow Imagine H2O’s competition on the web via Twitter or by joining their online community.