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Collision Between Water and Energy Is Underway, and Worsening
By Katherine Tweed Posted 18 Jul 2013 | 18:32 GMT Share | Email | Print

IEEE Spectrum’s energy, power, and green tech blog, featuring news and analysis about the future of energy, climate, and the smart grid.
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When a heat wave spread across the Midwest in the summer of 2012, the Powerton coal plant in central Illinois had to temporarily shut down a generator when its water supply became too warm to effectively cool the plant. Although 2012 was a year of severe drought in the U.S., the problems seen at various coal, nuclear, and hydropower facilities last summer are only likely to increase in coming years unless the power sector quickly changes its way of doing business, according to a new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) [PDF]. The problem is that the power sector is not known for moving quickly.
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the shift to cleaner energy isn’t happening fast enough to overcome increasing water shortages.” Peter Frumhoff. The study estimates freshwater withdrawals could drop more than 80 percent by 2050 and water consumption would go down by more than 40 percent. UCS's director of science and policy and chair of the project’s Scientific Advisory Committee. There also could be even further complications. More than 40 percent of fresh water used in the United States is withdrawn to cool power plants. coal-fired power plants are being retired. and water use for power could even rise in some areas. such as the Great Lakes region. but for resilience. because most new power plants would use recirculated or dry cooling and gas-fired power plants require less cooling. Wind Now Cost Competitive With Coal in India Lower need for water and falling prices make renewables more attractive 23 Jul Energy The report found that although coal use would drop significantly through 2050. As coal use plummets. Now we must build a power system hard-wired not for risk. Renewable energy generally uses far less water. said in a statement. however.Energy Power generation in the United States relies heavily on water. Another study found that nearly half of 423 U.S.S. plants were at A scientific study suggests so. while hydro directly uses water for energy production. the change would not significantly reduce the power sector’s carbon emissions because demand would rise and natural gas would mostly replace coal. the water is needed for cooling. Minnesota Nuclear Plant Upgrade Is $267 Million Over Budget A nuclear plant's 20-year extension comes at a high cost 16 Jul Energy Also. like the ones that run on coal or nuclear power. which is bound to complicate regulation risk of lower power output during droughts because their intake pipes for 11 Jul water were less than 3 meters below the surface. Other estimates find coal use dropping more quickly. the process of extracting gas by hydrofracking requires far more water than conventional drilling. “We set electricity and water on a collision course years ago. Environmental Protection Agency. converted by Web2PDFConvert. they could find Can Wastewater Injection from Fracking Cause Earthquakes? that there’s far less water available as water temperatures go up and water flows go down. Even though gas-fired power plants use less water than coal or nuclear. Black &Veatch recently estimated that nearly 60 gigawatts of coal generation will retire by 2020. such as geothermal and concentrating solar. part of UCS’s Energy and Water in a Warming World . With the looming mercury and air toxic standards (MATS) rule from the U. even though some newer plants might use far less water. The report. but there are glaring exceptions. The savings would not be same across the country. noted that even though the oldest and most water-hungry. there could be serious water savings under a businessas-usual scenario. For some plants.

with electricity use levels nearly flatlining from 1978 to 2005. according to the report. Advertisement The study argues that the renewables-and-efficiency scenario would free up water for the agricultural sector. the water industry also uses a significant amount of energy and more efficient wastewater treatment plants and more efficiency in municipal water systems will also be critical in coming years.Although the business-as-usual scenario could be bleak. which is already fighting with power projects for the right to constrained water resources. is a tough target. If the aggressive renewable target could be achieved (California and Hawaii have the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the country. respectively). That is already happening. the study notes several ways that we can get closer to the renewables-and-efficiency scenario. We must get this right. rather than business as usual. without compromising both. and we can build a low-carbon electricity system. the UCS sees energy efficiency offsetting what would otherwise be increased levels of energy use. water consumption would drop by 85 percent and water withdrawals would be 97 percent lower. there is another way forward. First.” Photo: iStockphoto Green Tech Netherlands Builds Nationwide EV Fast-Charging Network Start your (electric vehicle) engines 10 Jul Learn More efficiency drought water power energy production power plants renewable energy water shortage water-energy nexus water 196 Like 125 23 Share Share | Email | Print Energy Comments Comment Policy North China Pollution Cuts Life Expectancy by More than Five converted by Web2PDFConvert. Of course. A mix of energy efficiency and renewable energy could vastly from the water needed to keep the lights on. “But we cannot wait. Plants could use non-potable wastewater instead of freshwater for cooling and states can strengthen energy efficiency resource standards and renewable energy portfolio standards. nor do either in isolation. with renewables producing 80 percent of energy demand. at 33 and 40 . Although 80 percent renewable energy is a stretch across most of the United States at this time. The second part of the scenario. “We can untangle the production of electricity from our water supply to a much greater degree.” study authors wrote.

Best Community Ghung • 6 days ago More than ever. This year. it would indeed require massive infrastructure. Plants that could be powered from rare earth tailings. making the cooling much more effective. 1 Reply Share › • 4 days ago GoodCheer > drkennethnoisew ater Well no power generation technology NEEDs water for cooling. You can't have both high efficiency and a high temp radiator. Now we must build a power system hard-wired not for risk. Also a factor in the amount of cooling needed is the thermal efficiency of the .” Ya think?! The AME has been warning about this stuff for years but we're not very good a seeing limits until they're upon us. Coal plants and LWRs commonly have about 33% thermal efficiency. so you're not going to get any hotter than (more or less) any other thermal source. Then there's the use that drkennethnoisewater mentioned. ~1000 K. I went off grid 16 years ago." ??? 2 Reply Share › • 5 days ago drkennethnoisewater Advertisement Of course. Rain water keeps the PV clean. Reply Share › • a day ago Energy Japan Will Help Kenya Unlock Its Geothermal Potential Geothermal is a big part of Kenya's bold plans to electrify half the population GoodCheer > Uzza You're kinda double counting. as the hotter something is the faster it radiates energy. then goes about it's business. there isn't much slack for these weather/climate variations. molten-salt reactors (particularly. LFTR) not only don't need water cooling. Using air as your final heat dump requires huge cooling infrastructure. using the waste heat for desalination. But if the source is high temperature e. or even existing nuclear waste. a few years ago. When you max out Green Tech your systems.g. 9 Jul limited by the materials properties of turbines and plumbing. 3 Reply Share › Tony • 7 days ago Contextualizing Conergy's Solar Failure The relatively tiny photovoltaics market is still stabilizing 9 Jul "A mix of energy efficiency and renewable energy could vastly from the water needed to keep the lights on. The high temperature also allows them to use brayton cycle gas turbines for an efficiency of ~50%. As someone who rode reactors for the Navy and spent a chunk of his life mapping and designing power grids. TVA has been dumping water as fast as they can. reducing the waste heat generated per watt by two thirds.. but in fact could use low-quality waste heat for desalination. And the low end is limited by ambient temperature and the amount of capital you want to put into cooling. but for resilience. the People's Republic desperately needs clean tech 10 Jul “We set electricity and water on a collision course years ago. it just makes every thermal process much much more cost effective. converted by Web2PDFConvert. coal ash. 1 Reply Share › • a day ago Uzza > GoodCheer How hard air cooling is depends on the source that's to be cooled. lake levels were critically below full pool. Molten salt reactors are high temperature reactors generally running above. Modern high efficiency CCGT can reach an efficiency of 60%. Kind of hard to explain to customers and stock holders. reducing the waste heat generated by half for every watt compared to current LWRs. thus _increasing_ fresh water supplies.Expectancy by More than Five Years 7 comments Leave a message. 850 K. If the source is at low temperature. it vastly simplifies the task. potentially making it a net producer of fresh water.. meaning for every GW generated there's 2 GW of waste heat to remove.

ey... Both water and energy utilities enjoy high ratings. other than direct gas Reply Share › Manofsteel11 • 5 days ago Rating agencies have missed this one. or LFTR. gas. One must wonder who has a complete current quantitive map of what 'water scarcity' actually means? Green Tech See for example: http://www. What you do with your hot working fluid. as well as other major risks. can power a half million homes 8 Jul r Comment feed ✉ Subscribe via email Energy Obama's $7 Billion for African Electricity Yes.A thermal source is a thermal . Reply Share › World's Biggest Offshore Wind Farm Switched On in Britain Massive London Array dwarfs previous record-holder. is totally separate from the decision to use coal. you guessed it: There's less there than meets the eye 3 Jul Energy Spanish Town Taps Sewage to Make Biofuel The EU hopes wastewater is the secret to producing algal oils at scale 2 Jul converted by Web2PDFConvert. which do not take into account huge CAPEX needs and do not monitor actual water levels. . Climate Plan Covers the Bases In this particular case. there appears to be no devil in the details 29 Jun Green Tech A Cheaper Option to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Synthetic Fuel Maybe we won't need to bury carbon dioxide after all 27 Jun converted by Web2PDFConvert.Energy Project Aims to Make Lake George World’s “Smartest Lake” Predictive modeling could help save Lake George and other threatened waters 1 Jul Energy U.

com . the grid will need to be far more flexible 24 Jun Green Tech Car Battery Swapping Is Dead.Energy Obama Delivers a Defining Speech on Climate Change He also delivers a comprehensive plan. but in this case the rhetoric may be more important than the details 25 Jun Energy DOE Opens New Smart Grid Integration Testing Facility As renewable penetration goes up. Long Live Car Battery Swapping Tesla resurrects an appealing idea only just given up for dead 22 Jun converted by Web2PDFConvert.

sensors offer far greater savings when managing airflow 18 Jun converted by Web2PDFConvert.Energy Better Home Networking Could Save $330 Million Running a broadband modem and router all day uses a surprising amount of energy 20 Jun Energy German Parliament OKs Bold HVDC Grid Upgrade Germany's parliament and senate approved a bold grid upgrade that could challenge AC power's century-long reign 18 Jun Green Tech Advanced Occupancy Sensors Slash Energy . Keep Everyone Happy Forget about lighting.

com . China is starting small 18 Jun Topics Connect IEEE Spectrum The Magazine Aerospace At Work Biomedical Computing Energy Gadgets Geek Life Robotics Semiconductors Telecom © Copyright 2013 IEEE Spectrum Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ RSS Contact Us About Newsletters Mobile Site IEEE Partners Advertising & Media Center IEEE Job Site Buyer’s Guide Subscribe Now Digital Download Terms & Conditions |Privacy & Security |Nondiscrimination Policy About IEEE Conferences & Events Education & Careers Membership & Services Publications and Standards Societies & Communities converted by Web2PDFConvert.Energy China Launches Pilot Carbon Emissions Trading System With its usual talent for copying the most successful.

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