Lack of water threatens energy production

July 2013. U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather.

18 July 2013. Katherine Tweed. Collision Between Water and Energy Is Underway, and Worsening.

24 July 2013. Bloomberg News. China Coal-Fired Economy Dying of Thirst as Mines Lack Water.  Coal mining and power stations use 17% of China’s water.  Nearly all coal mines are in one of the China’s driest regions. About half of China’s rivers have dried up since 1990 — 28,000 rivers –and those that remain are mostly contaminated. Without enough water, coal can’t be mined, new power stations can’t run and the economy can’t grow. At least 80% of the nation’s coal comes from regions where the United Nations says water supplies are either “stressed” or in “absolute scarcity.”  A government plan to boost the coal industry and build more power plants near mines will lift industrial demand for water in Inner Mongolia 141% by 2015, causing aquifers to dry up and deserts to expand. Severe water pollution affects 75% of China’s rivers and lakes and 28% are unsuitable even for agricultural use. A shortage of coal from lack of water to mine and process may force China to increase imports, pushing up world prices. China, which mines 45% of the world’s coal, may adopt an aggressive “coal-mine grab” to secure supplies, and will likely be importing 25% of the world’s coal production by 2015.

Sandra Postel. 18 July 2013. Water Stress Threatens Future Energy Production. National Geographic.

  • Thermoelectric power plants alone use more than 200 billion gallons of water a day – about 49 percent of the nation’s total water withdrawals.
  • Every gallon of gasoline at the pump takes about 13 gallons of water to make.
  • Large quantities of water are needed as well for the production, refining and transport of the fuels that light and heat our homes and buildings, and run our buses and cars.
  • Hydroelectric energy from dams require water to drive turbines to generate the power.  Each 1 foot drop in the level of Lake Mead on the Colorado River, causes the Hoover Dam to lose 5-6 megawatts of generating capacity – enough to supply electricity to about 5,000 homes.
  • Nuclear and coal power plants need 20,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour for their “once-through” cooling systems.
  • Of the one hundred coal-fired power plants deemed to be most vulnerable to water shortages, most are located in the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In these states, water for cooling may be constrained by low river flows, high water temperatures or both – forcing utilities to cut back on power generation.
This entry was posted in Energy Production and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.