CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world. Subscribe today!


Clean Power wind and water

Published on May 18th, 2008 | by Michelle Bennett

24

Could Wind help Save Water?

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

May 18th, 2008 by  


wind and waterBig news for the wind industry, big implications for water.

First, the Department of Energy released a report that confirmed what the wind industry has already claimed: wind could power 20% of the United State’s energy needs by 2030. Even with growing energy demands, our ample wind resources could meet one-fifth of our needs with continued growth and innovation. Other nations, especially Denmark, are already deriving significant fractions of their energy from wind, sometimes with impressive results. The truth is, wind energy is booming even as the specter of the expiring Production Tax Credit moves to the House of Representatives for a vote.

Another large announcement this week came from ex-oilman T. Boone Pickens, who proved (once again) that every thing’s bigger in Texas.

He just ordered $2 billion worth of wind turbines from GE to build the world’s largest wind farm.

Texas has already shown that wind isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also good for rural jobs. There’s even a town in Missouri that derives almost all of its energy from wind power, and sells excess energy to other towns. These examples and more disprove many of the wind myths that are still floating around. Wind energy is not a perfect technology, but it holds powerful potential to diversify power generation around the world. The Aral Sea, drainedOne of the statistics that struck me is that wind power could:

“reduce water consumption associated with electricity generation by 4 trillion gallons by 2030.”

(Source) With drought affecting many places around the world, including Australia and several American regions, any technology that conserves water carries important implications. Even areas with abundant water resources (and recent flooding) are concerned about over-exploitation of their water. One part of the water issue is that nuclear and coal-fired power plants require a lot of water, billions of gallons per day across the nation. Some of that water is ultimately returned to its source, but some is also lost or polluted.

In areas with scarce or dwindling water resources, a host of hydra-headed problems appear simultaneously: agriculture and food, energy, population, health and sanitation, development,industry, environment. Our lives, economy, and society are intimately linked to water, and scarcity is often a source of instability.

Judging from various efforts around the globe, it’s safe to say that conserving water is cheaper than alternatives. Australia and Barcelona are potent examples of the cost of water shortages; both are spending a lot of money to secure their water supplies. In Los Angeles, recycling sewage is cheaper than piping it in. If things get worse, Boone Pickens’ investment will look like a steal. By investing in water-friendly energy production, you strike two birds with one stone. You add a buffer for communities in case of future water shortages by removing resource conflicts before they occur. Wind power could also help us prepare for the effects of climate change and shifting weather patterns, which are already evident around the globe.

There is also the possibility of harvesting potable water from the ocean, but desalination plants are expensive and use large amounts of energy. Another proven method may be to encourage natural water storage via wetlands. A town in the state of Georgia, outside of drought-stricken Atlanta, has not felt the effects of the southeast’s severe drought due to smart water planning. But even these methods fundamentally react to a water shortage instead of preventing it.

Wind is certainly no placebo for water supply problems, but it could be part of the solution. For me, this is another example of how renewable energy is a sound investment in the long-term, and how we can reap unexpected benefits from clean technology.

Related Links:

Water Conservation Around the House

Did you know…? Water Facts

Images:

Spin” via recursion_see_recu rsion on the Flickr Creative Commons

“Aral Sea” via TreeHugger

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

is an environmentalist who loves to write. She grew up across the southeastern USA and especially love the Appalachian mountains. She went to school in the northeast USA in part to witness different mindsets and lifestyles than those of my southern stomping grounds. She majored in English Lit. and Anthropology. She has worked as a whitewater rafting guide, which introduced her to a wilderness and the complex issues at play in the places where relatively few people go. She also taught English in South Korea for a year, which taught her to take nothing for granted.



  • Rob

    Unicef is working on a project that provides water to Africa. They teamed up with Volvic, a french water bottled brand, together came drink1give10. I think it’s pretty interesting. Here’s the website. http://drink1give10.com

  • Rob

    Unicef is working on a project that provides water to Africa. They teamed up with Volvic, a french water bottled brand, together came drink1give10. I think it’s pretty interesting. Here’s the website. http://drink1give10.com

  • Pingback: ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PICKS « The Conservation Report

  • Pingback: Wind Power Blows into Peru and Brightens Future : EcoWorldly

  • http://cleantechnica.com Michelle Bennett

    A Michael:

    By George, I think you’re right! Clearly my English major has failed me once more.

  • http://cleantechnica.com Michelle Bennett

    A Michael:

    By George, I think you’re right! Clearly my English major has failed me once more.

  • http://www.cleantechnica.com MichelleBennett

    @ David:

    I wholeheartedly agree. I especially like the idea of turbines in rivers; even small ones would run 24/7. One man wants to line the Mississippi with little river turbines – thousands of them. There are a few ocean tide-powered projects running around the world and I’m excited to hear how they do. But I haven’t done enough research on the topic to know why it’s not more popular. Any thoughts?

    @ Scott:

    I believe Costa Rica is trying to claim carbon neutrality thanks, in part, to their hydroelectric power. Depending on how they crunch their numbers (they already plan to replant large tracks of rainforest to acheive this) I think they might just fenangle it. But will they be the first? Stay tuned…

  • http://www.cleantechnica.com MichelleBennett

    @ David:

    I wholeheartedly agree. I especially like the idea of turbines in rivers; even small ones would run 24/7. One man wants to line the Mississippi with little river turbines – thousands of them. There are a few ocean tide-powered projects running around the world and I’m excited to hear how they do. But I haven’t done enough research on the topic to know why it’s not more popular. Any thoughts?

    @ Scott:

    I believe Costa Rica is trying to claim carbon neutrality thanks, in part, to their hydroelectric power. Depending on how they crunch their numbers (they already plan to replant large tracks of rainforest to acheive this) I think they might just fenangle it. But will they be the first? Stay tuned…

  • Scott

    I had the same question as Strategy node, and I’ll take Michelle’s answer on that. There are countries that are powered by water (hydropower) 100%. Sri Lanka is one such example, there may be more, I don’t know. I’m thinking even if USA manages to get 50% of it’s energy demands by something like wind or water, that would have a great positive impact on the country’s and world’s economy. Hopefully by that time, this technology described on http://www.SaveGasSaveEarth.com would have spread like a viral disease throughout the world and people would already be spending pennies on powering their vehicles. Now how wonderful would that world be…if only I live that long….

  • Scott

    I had the same question as Strategy node, and I’ll take Michelle’s answer on that. There are countries that are powered by water (hydropower) 100%. Sri Lanka is one such example, there may be more, I don’t know. I’m thinking even if USA manages to get 50% of it’s energy demands by something like wind or water, that would have a great positive impact on the country’s and world’s economy. Hopefully by that time, this technology described on http://www.SaveGasSaveEarth.com would have spread like a viral disease throughout the world and people would already be spending pennies on powering their vehicles. Now how wonderful would that world be…if only I live that long….

  • http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/ David G.

    Why not use Ocean Wave power instead of wind power?

    Ocean waves are constant, unlike wind and solar.

    Have more energy because the medium is water. Denser energy.

    There are systems that use buoys bobbing up and down capturing the mechanical energy and making it electricity. No bird problems, no visual pollution, no noise. This is not a concept. This exists NOW.

    Check it out

    http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/

  • http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/ David G.

    Why not use Ocean Wave power instead of wind power?

    Ocean waves are constant, unlike wind and solar.

    Have more energy because the medium is water. Denser energy.

    There are systems that use buoys bobbing up and down capturing the mechanical energy and making it electricity. No bird problems, no visual pollution, no noise. This is not a concept. This exists NOW.

    Check it out

    http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/

  • Francois

    The Dutch are already ahead of the game, with windmills driving desalination pumps directly instead of going through the generator/motor.

    http://www.physorg.com/news123502193.html

    http://www.drinkingwiththewind.nl/

    It’s a lot easier to store purified water as compared with electricity, too.

  • Francois

    The Dutch are already ahead of the game, with windmills driving desalination pumps directly instead of going through the generator/motor.

    http://www.physorg.com/news123502193.html

    http://www.drinkingwiththewind.nl/

    It’s a lot easier to store purified water as compared with electricity, too.

  • http://aguanomics.com/ David Zetland

    Jinx!

  • http://aguanomics.com/ David Zetland

    Jinx!

  • http://aguanomics.com/ David Zetland

    Good post and right about water. One key reason that water is “wasted” on cooling is that it’s often cheap/free. If water gets more expensive, use in plants will fall. This is not important to wind power, which is usually sold based on its energy profile, but more-expensive water could make wind power even more attractive as an alternative. (With the caveat, of course, that wind power is intermittent.)

    @SN — I think that 2030 is put up there for two reasons: (1) nobody knows and 2030 is nice and far away. (2) capital costs and manufacturing capacity are limited. Surging demand for solar has led to price spikes for PV panels, which makes them less attractive as investments…

  • http://www.cleantechnica.com MichelleBennett

    @ Strategy Node:

    Great question, and a complicated one. The easy answer would be that 20% can come sooner… for the right price. However, with supply chain problems (not enough local manufacturing in the US to make faster building affordable), the cost of building new transmission lines to remote areas (Mr. Pickens claims he’ll build his own private transmission lines if he has to) and the looming tax credit vote; builing 20% wind power sooner could be difficult and expensive. As I understand it, the DoE’s report is what could happen, assuming those obstacles are overcome with minimal government investment. If, for example, a law passed to offer more support for renewables, it could come sooner.

  • http://aguanomics.com/ David Zetland

    Good post and right about water. One key reason that water is “wasted” on cooling is that it’s often cheap/free. If water gets more expensive, use in plants will fall. This is not important to wind power, which is usually sold based on its energy profile, but more-expensive water could make wind power even more attractive as an alternative. (With the caveat, of course, that wind power is intermittent.)

    @SN — I think that 2030 is put up there for two reasons: (1) nobody knows and 2030 is nice and far away. (2) capital costs and manufacturing capacity are limited. Surging demand for solar has led to price spikes for PV panels, which makes them less attractive as investments…

  • http://www.cleantechnica.com MichelleBennett

    @ Strategy Node:

    Great question, and a complicated one. The easy answer would be that 20% can come sooner… for the right price. However, with supply chain problems (not enough local manufacturing in the US to make faster building affordable), the cost of building new transmission lines to remote areas (Mr. Pickens claims he’ll build his own private transmission lines if he has to) and the looming tax credit vote; builing 20% wind power sooner could be difficult and expensive. As I understand it, the DoE’s report is what could happen, assuming those obstacles are overcome with minimal government investment. If, for example, a law passed to offer more support for renewables, it could come sooner.

  • http://www.strategynode.com Strategy Node

    Wind technology is exciting, but I don’t understand why the predictions of 20% of the nation’s energy can be supplied by 2030 – why not sooner? The expense is the only reason why I can think it won’t happen sooner.

  • http://www.strategynode.com Strategy Node

    Wind technology is exciting, but I don’t understand why the predictions of 20% of the nation’s energy can be supplied by 2030 – why not sooner? The expense is the only reason why I can think it won’t happen sooner.

  • michael

    I enjoyed your article, but did you mean panacea instead of placebo?

  • michael

    I enjoyed your article, but did you mean panacea instead of placebo?

Back to Top ↑