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Costs of Inaction: Energy and Water Demands Collide

by Kristen Sheeran • June 24, 2011 @ 11:05 am

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists details how our electricity demands are colliding with our fresh water needs. Though often overlooked, the electricity sector’s dependence on fresh water runs deep, and not only in regions that rely heavily on hydropower. Fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants rely on fresh water for cooling purposes. Power plants demand the largest share of U.S. freshwater withdrawals: 41%. Just as hydropower plants operate at reduced capacity or shut-down during periods of prolonged drought, steam-generating power plants cut back production or shut down during dry and hot periods.

The bottom line: the energy system is not only the primary driver of global climate change but is highly vulnerable to its impacts. As climate change reduces the availability of fresh water supplies and contributes to greater irregularities in the timing of peak stream flows, the capacity of our energy system to reliably produce power declines. The solution: we need to embrace lower-water technologies such as air cooling for power plants and no-water options such as wind farms and energy efficiency.

 You can read the full report here.

 Releated posts: The Costs of Inaction: Southwest Water Crisis; Costs of Inaction: Energy, Water, Infrastructure

 

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