Half of US Water Usage is for Power Generation, Study Says
"Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity," a recent report by the River Network, outlines the ways in which water is used to generate electrical power. It contrasts this consumption with the relatively small water needed for more sustainable energy sources such as solar, biomass and wind.
The report focuses on the "blue water" footprint of electrical production (water transformed from liquid to vapor) and the "gray water" footprint—which includes both water withdrawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers for thermal electric cooling or otherwise used “in-stream” for hydropower production. A "green water" footprint can also be applied to biomass and liquid biofuels used to generate electricity—a small but growing part of our electrical grid. Someday, perhaps algae-based fuels and more advanced biogas technologies will be brought into wider commercial production at which point their substantial green water footprint should also be researched.
The report concludes with recommended actions to reduce the water used in electrical production, and suggests research projects that could further the effort.
The report was funded by the Kresge Foundation, which works to create opportunity, have community impact, foster institutional transformation, and promote environmental conservation.