Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Clean Power

IEA Says Energy Industry In Troubled Water With Future Water Usage

It’s an easily forgotten necessity of energy production: the billions of cubic meters (BCM) of freshwater that is necessary for cooling, irrigating, fracking, and other uses. This is water that is not returned to the water basin for future use — it’s temporarily lost to evaporation, consumption, or pollution.

The International Energy Agency expects energy industry water consumption to double from the 66 BCM used today to about 135 BCM by 2035.

The IEA predicts that more than half of that 135 BCM consumption will be due to coal-fired power plants, along with 30% used in biofuel production.

To imagine what 135 BCM looks like, the IEA equates it to 90 days’ discharge of the Mississippi River or four times the volume of Lake Mead. No drop in the bucket, friends.

Water pulled in all directions

As water is needed for increasing energy needs, water is also needed for an increasing population. To make matters worse, there’s concern over how robust the water supply will be in the coming decades as rainfall is less reliable and predictable thanks to climate change. Dwindling water supplies will affect agriculture, population distribution, and political stability.

How to sidestep excessive water usage

Renewables!

Increased reliance on wind and solar photovoltaic — which are decidedly less water hungry than coal and biofuels — will drastically reduce water usage. According to Think Progress, the IEA calculates that “wind and solar photovoltaic power have such minimal water needs they account for less than one percent of water consumption for energy now and in the future, by IEA’s calculations.”

Check out these tables of water use efficiency for conventional power plants versus wind and solar technology derived from 2010 data.

However, the big loser of renewable energy water consumption is concentrating solar thermal power. The misfortune is that wet-cooled concentrating solar power plants use a lot of water to make power. Like coal-fired power plants, to reduce water consumption at concentrating solar thermal power plants, dry-cooling technology should be implemented, but this can be quite costly.

Source: Think Progress

 

Advertisement
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.

Comments

You May Also Like

Clean Power

Part 1.5 of a new CleanTechnica series on solar power. Read part 1 here.

Buildings

Every new building should have solar power. Now, they may have to!

Clean Power

Part 1 of a new CleanTechnica series on Solar Power.

Clean Power

Ford South Africa’s assembly plant is now generating 35% of its electricity needs onsite from a newly commissioned 13.5 MW solar carport system. Through...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.