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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions

The Energy-Water Nexus & Renewable Energy

Cleaning and pumping water for drinking or lawn-watering requires energy and so does producing the energy - that's the energy-water nexus.

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Conserving Water and Conserving Energy are Synonymous.

"It takes energy to move water, and it takes a lot of water to make energy," said Michael Webber, the associate director at the University of Texas' Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy.

Cleaning and pumping water for drinking or lawn-watering requires energy, Webber explained, and power plants need water to cool and recapture the steam that drives their engines.

Policy wonks have deemed the phenomenon worthy of its own catchphrase — "water-energy nexus".

So far, no state has changed up forecasting methods to think of water and power jointly, although California published a report about its water-energy relationship in 2005.

Conserving Water and Energy with "Some" Renewable Energies

He said renewable energies from wind turbines and solar panels require almost no water to operate. But he warned that some unconventional alternatives can make matters worse: Desalination plants produce potable water, but they require a lot of energy. Biofuels can substitute for foreign oil, but they require lots of water.

The energy-water nexus has already led to real world complications. In August, an Alabama nuclear plant voluntarily shut down for one day because drought had lowered and heated water in the river that feeds the plant. The power plant would have further warmed the water as it discharged it, potentially endangering wildlife.

Moving water, in turn, requires a lot of power.

Requiring power to operate its water and wastewater treatment plants and to pump water around the city, the Austin Water Utility takes up at least half the city government's electricity consumption, said Daryl Slusher, assistant director of conservation and environmental affairs for the utility.

About 4 percent of the nation's electricity is used for water supply and treatment, said Lisa Epifani, an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read more at the SOURCE: Asher Price, Statesman.com, Austin American Statesman
May 27, 2008



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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