The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently highlighted a little-discussed benefit of using renewables like wind and solar to produce electricity: Unlike most power sources, they require “almost no water.”
This is remarkable because thermoelectric power generation is the leading use of water in America. (That said, only three percent of power generation’s 133 billion gallons a day of water is considered “consumptive use,” as the U.S. Geological Survey says, “meaning it is lost to evaporation or blowdown during generation.”)
According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data from 2015, 41 percent of the water used in America is for power generation. The next highest use is irrigation for agriculture, accounting for 37 percent of U.S. water use (and close to two-thirds of that is consumptive).
The Union of Concerned Scientists was raising this alarm in 2012 when the nonprofit created an infographic focused on the “ energy-water collision,” which “refers to the range of issues that can crop up where our water resources and our power sector interact.” That can include increased competition for dwindling water sources and problems when the water going into or out of power plants is too warm. […]