Climate, water and energy are intricately linked, so choices in any one sector can often reverberate across the others. To achieve the best possible outcomes, policy-makers need to understand cross-sector interactions and tradeoffs – the so-called ‘nexus’. This requires new tools for integrated analysis.

Seeking to meet this need, SEI has built a link between its water and energy decision support systems, which are already used in policy-making and planning around the world: the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system, and the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) system. The integrated tools allow users to model evolving conditions in both water and energy systems and examine cross-sectoral impacts of different policy choices.

The value of such integrated analyses is demonstrated here by a case study of the implications of meeting roughly 5% of Southern California’s current urban water demand with desalinated seawater through 2049. By linking a WEAP model of the U.S. Southwest with a LEAP model of California, the study was able to quantify the impact on water imports, electricity demand from the water sector, and greenhouse-gas emissions.

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