The energy-water nexus

Edmonston Pumping Plant Credit:

Plentiful amounts of water are needed to create electricity and, especially in the West and Southwest, considerable electricity is used is used to move water. This is the energy-water nexus.

Gigaom has a two part series on the relationship between energy and water. A few highlights:

  • Hydroelectricity consumes more water than thermo-electric plants by a fair margin (because of evaporation in man-made reservoirs.)
  • In 2006, the total amount of water-related energy use in California was 52 billion kilowatt-hours annually or about 6 GW of continuous power expenditure.
  • Electric cars can be more water-intensive than gasoline cars if each kWh of electricity production uses a few gallons of water.
  • The real water hog for energy purposes is biofuels. Each gallon of fuel produced can consume on the order of 1,000 gallons of water
  • Desalination is do-able but requires huge amounts of energy.

A 20% reduction in water and electricity use by everyone in the West and Southwest would solve most water and energy problems. Whether this happens voluntarily and by plan or crisis forces the issue, we will know soon enough.

2 Responses to The energy-water nexus

  1. kmt Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    A new study from The University of Texas finds that the US uses 12.6% of its primary energy consumption for direct water-related purposes. See podcast and paper here

    • Bob Morris Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 7:23 am #

      Thx for the link. So. 1/8 of our power goes towards moving water and water is heavily used in making power…