The first-ever documentary screening at DISTRIBUTECH took place in a mega-session on Wednesday and was followed by a great panel discussion about the future of energy.
Michael Webber, an academic and previous DISTRIBUTECH International keynote speaker, has written a book which has been turned into a documentary –Thirst for Power. The documentary takes the viewer on a trip through history, exploring how water and power have been intertwined for centuries. First, as a source of economic and military power as far back as the ancient Roman Empire, the film explores how the richest nations were those who could control water, explaining that there is evidence that entire civilizations have collapsed and disappeared because of lack of water.
An interesting point made in the film is that the per person use of water today is pretty much the same as it was in Ancient Rome.
The documentary then turns to ways of harnessing water for power: to mill grains, crush oil seeds or polish glass. In Annecy, France, the mechanical power of water was used to make metal objects like knives, iron pots, etc.
Turning then to the history of wastewater treatment, Thirst for Power explores the advent of sewers, delving (literally) into the sewers of Paris, which were a model of modern ingenuity when they were first designed and created.
However, the energy that we use to manage our waste is enormous, according to the film.
The film spends quite a bit of time on modern wastewater treatment in Austin, Texas, where, according to the film, the water downstream of the city is actually cleaner than the water upstream.
Next, the film moves into water for power generation, first looking at hydropower in the United States and linking that with the birth of the women’s rights movement, rural electrification and jobs. Then showing how it is related to the rise of environmentalism.
People don’t realize how much water is actually used for cooling large power plants. The film says that the power generation industry actually uses more water for cooling than the agricultural sector uses water for irrigation.
And of course with climate change, we are seeing more droughts than ever, which will impact our ability to make power through hydropower technology as well as impact our ability to cool coal-, nuclear-, and gas-fired power plants that rely on water for cooling.
The message, that we have to manage our resources together as a global nation, is loud and clear by the end of the film.
At the conclusion of the film Kimberly Britton, CEO at San Antonio’s EPICenter moderated a discussion with Michael Webber, Sharelynn Moore, SVP Networked Solutions at Itron and Paula Gold-Williams, CEO of CPS Energy, all of whom are stakeholders in the film.
Thanks to @MichaelEWebber and Prof Amy Hardberger for sharing Thirst for Power with San Antonio students at “@WitteMuseum during #DTECH2020. Thanks @cpsenergy @itron @discolearning @mathames pic.twitter.com/syZtDtRCIk— Jill Vassar (@JillVassar) January 29, 2020
Webber, a professor, explained that one of the reasons he wanted to make the documentary was reach. “When you write an academic paper, 20 people might read it,” he said, adding that when you make a film and hold screenings across the country, many more people are exposed to its message.
Gold-Williams said that CPS wanted to be involved because the film shows what we are living every day. She added that the idea that utilities don’t think about water when they are building plants is “not true for us.” She said CPS always secures water rights when it builds power plants.
Moore said that Itron believes it can create a profitable, sustainable company that can do good for the world. “It’s a heartfelt mission for us,” she said.
Had fun discussing a smart, clean future with @EPIcenterUS @Paula_GW @SharelynnM and screening #ThirstForPower to a packed room of 200+ people #DTECH2020 in San Antonio https://t.co/JjA20XWYJs pic.twitter.com/1rewtqldA0— Michael E. Webber (@MichaelEWebber) January 29, 2020
So interesting to hear these leaders in the industry sharing the interconnected paradigm of water and energy. Watch “Thirst for Power” documentary. #Dtech2020 Thank you for sharing your knowledge Dr. Webber and personally being here at #Dtech2020 from France. pic.twitter.com/W1BMuwQtNF— Cecilia Pineda (@macegal) January 29, 2020
More from the Twittersphere:
It’s almost 6 o’clock … #DTECH2020 After Dark is full swing …— Kevin O’Donovan (@Kevin_ODonovan) January 30, 2020
& the #Cybeer #Tech Talk is in full swing … good crowd in as well…
Got to admit, 1st time this year I have been at a #CyberSecurity talk while having a beer ?
HT @owlcyberdefense @OSIsoft
@storage_ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman today at #DTECH2020: Storage is the central hub of a clean energy ecosystem, transformingelectric, mobility infrastructure. Hear directly from key policymakers on changes at the 2020 ESA Policy Forum Feb. 12 in DC. https://t.co/BIYoZDtcDb pic.twitter.com/b2krGSXs9n— Energy Storage Assoc (@storage_ESA) January 30, 2020
Sustainably electrifying industries: At #DTECH2020 #IBM‘s Brad Gammons explains the key role that utilities play in the #EnergyTransition – and how @IBMIndustries can help them. Interested in more details? Have a look at— Dr Thomas Hillig ⚡️ #EnergyTransition @ THEnergy (@THEnergyNet) January 30, 2020
▶️https://t.co/9ugtXbkTzb#IBMFuturist @DISTRIBUTECH pic.twitter.com/0Fh0adTtql
See you at @DISTRIBUTECH, where @MaritSall will be talking to @EDFofficiel, @alabamapower & @DominionEnergy about #startup #corporate collaboration and #pilots— Plug and Play (@PlugandPlayTC) January 30, 2020
More info ? https://t.co/TLRgMLKuhc #DTECH2020 pic.twitter.com/sqo6AkuSs1