The demand for freshwater is growing and the seeming supply worldwide seems to be dwindling. Choosing new sources of electric power that are less dependant on fresh water for processing is imperative.
Why use our precious fresh water for processing?
The United States Geological Survey says that 48 percent of freshwater withdrawals nationwide are for electric power production. “Water is needed to make steam in most thermal power plants, and for cooling. Water is also an important factor in the production of fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. While almost all of this water usage is “non-consumptive” (it is not absorbed by vegetation, for instance), this enormous source of demand reduces stream flows, lowers groundwater tables, and diverts water from other uses. The testimony delivered before the subcommittee by U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Dr. Krisitina M. Johnson describes the dependence various power production options have on the availability of water.” (1)
Power production depends on water power sources that
save water and reduce carbon emissions.
On the gallons-per-megawatt-hour basis, worst carbon emission offenders
1. coal power with carbon sequestration uses the water intensity can become double that of a conventional coal plant, needing almost twice as much water as a nuclear power plant, more than twice as much as any other generating option
2. low-carbon nuclear power is the worst offender in reducing carbon emissions
3. solar thermal and biofuels and conventional coal comes in a close second.
4. Natural gas is somewhat better
5. Solar photovoltaics and wind have minimal water requirements
“The Department of Energy is addressing this issue by promoting energy effiiciency, funding research and development into more water-efficient approaches, and looking at existing options (such as closed-loop parabolic solar concentrators) that required comparatively less water. But all of this is occurring within a broader context. Dr. Johnson says, ‘In general, water is only one of many factors such as materials inputs, energy production and consumption, emissions, and others that must be considered in the lifecycle construction, operation, and decommissioning of energy technologies. Consequently, water-related technology R&D is best done as part of the broader R&D effort to improve performance, lower costs, and reduce environmental impacts, including water, of energy supply and end-use technologies.’
The simple fact that the current Department of Energy looks at these matters in terms of lifecycle impacts is reason for hope.”(1)
“The U.S. is planning to invest hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years in clean and renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides, etc. We have an abundance of all these and it will serve us right if we can explore on any of these possibilities for our future use.
We should exercise prudence and consider the economic considerations, maintenance, risk factors and the benefits involved. Let us wait for results of feasibility studies the advanced nation come up with together with the studies of our own experts in the field of renewable energy. There is no substitute to prudence when safety and well being of future generations are involved. Likewise, there is no room for wastefulness of resources when we continue to wallow in poverty.” (2)
Excerpts 1. courtesy of “Water for Power Plants: A Major Concern All of Its Own”
Excerpts 2. courtesy of “BATAAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT”