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Water Consumption Surprisingly Large For Major Forms Of Power Generation

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 4:02 pm by Solar Energy USA

We are all well aware that water is necessary for survival, and that power is also necessary. But, you may be surprised to learn that water is also necessary for the survival of most power plants.

Power plants account for about half of all the water used in the United States. People use more water to power their homes than they pour from their faucets.

Water is essential to cool these power plants. What does it do? It cools turbines.

If the water used to cool a power plant is too warm it could have bad effects on humans and not just the local ecosystems it disrupts.

As water temperatures rise, the production and output of each power plant is slowed.

Michael Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, says that Americans are just beginning to deal with a problem. “In the summer you often get a double whammy. People want their air-conditioning and drought gets worse. You have more demand for electricity and less water available to produce it. That is what we are seeing in the Midwest right now, power plants on the edge.”


According to the United Nations, fears of a repeat of the 2007-08 world food crisis have been raised by recent sharp increases in the price of corn, wheat and soybeans, as summer droughts have scorched crops across the globe. Last week the World Bank said world food prices jumped 10% in July, as U.S. corn and soybean production has suffered in the grip of a record-breaking drought.

Nuclear power plants need 720 gallons of water per megawatt hour for cooling. By comparison, coal or natural gas plants need 500 gallons and 189 gallons, respectively, to produce the same amount of energy.

As previously stated, when water temperatures rise the production and output of each power plant is slowed. And decreased energy production and output (or a decrease in supply) over an extended period will lead to increased prices because power is constantly in demand.

U.S. nuclear power plant production is currently at it’s lowest production point in 9 years as a result of a severe drought – the worst drought in 50 years, in fact, according to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture in a recent news release.

But have no fear because there is one energy source that does not need water to generate power and can help us resolve this crisis. You guessed it – solar power!