Water use in electricity generation: the sobering facts that make a case for wind and solar power

Read the full post at Renewable Energy Focus.

Did you know it takes 100,000 gallons of water to produce a single megawatt hour of electricity? Well according to a new report out today, it does – unless you’re using wind or solar power that is. So maybe, with much of the world battling more regular bouts of drought and water shortages it’s something policy makers need to start taking more notice of?

The proponents of the report from Synapse Energy Economics – prepared for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI) and the Environmental Working Group – certainly think they should. These groups warn that the huge demands on increasingly scarce water are “a major hidden cost” of a business-as-usual approach to American electricity generation.

The report, The Hidden Costs of Electricity: Comparing the Hidden Costs of Power Generation Fuels, analyses six fuels used to generate electricity — biomass, coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power), and wind (both onshore and offshore). Water impacts, climate change impacts, air pollution impacts, planning and cost risk, subsidies and tax incentives, land impacts, and other impacts are all considered.

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