Solar and wind energy enhances drought resilience and groundwater sustainability

Xiaogang He, Kairui Feng, Xiaoyuan Li, Amy B. Craft, Yoshihide Wada, Peter Burek, Eric F. Wood, Justin Sheffield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Water scarcity brings tremendous challenges to achieving sustainable development of water resources, food, and energy security, as these sectors are often in competition, especially during drought. Overcoming these challenges requires balancing trade-offs between sectors and improving resilience to drought impacts. An under-appreciated factor in managing the water-food-energy (WFE) nexus is the increased value of solar and wind energy (SWE). Here we develop a trade-off frontier framework to quantify the water sustainability value of SWE through a case study in California. We identify development pathways that optimize the economic value of water in competition for energy and food production while ensuring sustainable use of groundwater. Our results indicate that in the long term, SWE penetration creates beneficial feedback for the WFE nexus: SWE enhances drought resilience and benefits groundwater sustainability, and in turn, maintaining groundwater at a sustainable level increases the added value of SWE to energy and food production.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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