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Page added on March 27, 2014

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Water Used by Power Plants

Water Used by Power Plants thumbnail

,From Moonscape To Lake District: East Germany's Coal Mines

Breaking Energy has been focusing on the energy-water nexus today in our coverage in recognition of UN World Water Day, which occurred this past Saturday. The infographic helps visualize the volumes of water used to generate electricity from various sources. In addition to power generation, water is used to produce oil, gas, coal, biofuels and most raw energy-related commodities.

water day infographic

 Infographic courtesy of PURE Energies.

breaking energy



11 Comments on "Water Used by Power Plants"

  1. Kenz300 on Thu, 27th Mar 2014 11:19 pm 

    Another reason to switch to wind and solar……..

    They require no water to generate electricity.

  2. bobinget on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 12:29 am 

    Once or twice each dusty, dry summer my PV’s get a wash. Forget about pooping birds who find sitting atop
    my array a safe way to tease dogs and cats.

    Using a pressure washer and long handle window brush, minimal runoff greens up grass.

    On one of those many square mile desert arrays I’ll bet it takes a bit more than a few gallons. Of course one can go w/o cleaning but output is compromised.

    One sure way to make it rain too.

  3. DC on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 3:55 am 

    Indeed, its completely false to suggest Solar uses zero water- btw,would this qualify as false advertising? To be sure, its uses a lot less, and the water used is not contaminated like the it is with coal and so on, but when you consider where most of us want to stick mega-scale solar plants(ie in the desert), it makes the poorly thought out adblurb even more silly.

    For an example, how much water does Nevada’s Solar One(CSP), or any of the other large solar PV type plants use? Haven’t really seen much data on that particular point that I can recall. Im pretty sure it isnt zero, or anywhere close.

  4. rollin on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 4:39 am 

    The PV solar farms and roofs in my area don’t use any water because it rains quite often here.
    Couldn’t filtered air blown on the panels or simple wipes be used to clean the panels in desert areas? No need for even minimal water use.

    Yes the amount used on PV is close to zero or zero.

  5. Plant on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 9:01 am 

    Well, they don’t use it, they just evaporate a small part of the water to cool the rest (when there’s not enough to run off river, without those fat cooling towers).
    They certainly don’t pollute it with coal, the fire and water are kept separate in the boiler (who would have thought!), besides the water in the boiler it’s demineralized and recirculated (that’s why you have a condenser for the steam coming out of the turbine), much cheaper than throwing it away and treating some more.

    Power plants do a lot of nasty things and air pollution, but the above article it’s just greenish propaganda.

  6. Davy, Hermann, MO on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 10:37 am 

    DC, you and I don’t see eye to eye on politics but we are bosom buddies on the environment and the realities of energy and modern life. Look Solar is an industrial manufacturing process requiring huge direct and indirect complex activities. There is huge embedded energy in this process and it is directly dependent on the economies of scale of all the other complex industrial activities of industrial man. So you want to tell me that is “green” NO, Sorry. /Kenz/ AltE is bullshit green. The only green is back to local support from direct natural solar input. Now with that chastisement, AltE is very important in mitigating the global systems entropic decay that is in progress. We should utilize this resource (Solar infrastructure) as much as possible to help us through the decent. I would rather see solar panels then Nintendo games. But folks the economies of scale and the economic activity that makes solar possible makes Nintendo part of the equation. Solar is not possible without a modern economy. AltE cannot and will not be able to be the energy base of a modern economy. It is this falicy and “Lying to ourselves” that is very dangerous because it creates false hope in the coming decent. If you create false hope people will continue on with status quo BAU like “everything will be like today but with a shiny, clean and renewable economy”. It sounds so wholesome and apple pie to me and it is “Bullshit”. Let us admit there is nothing to support status quo Bau for more than a few years. With that in mind let us take the best of the AltE in all the various locations with comparative advantage and niche applications and build out what we can. The industry will not survive a financial and global contraction. The complexity of the manufacturing process is among the highest on par with computers. We must also realize the grid will have to be simplified not made more complex so our application of solar to the grid needs to be dispersed and local in nature or we will have huge built out solar sources that are shut in and if effect wasted investments. If there is one thing the global society does not need now is large scale shut in resources. Everything must have value at this critical juncture.

  7. Makati1 on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 11:45 am 

    You might want to take a look at Sunweb’s latest article “Reality again”.

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/

    I liked the pic of the truck used to mine rare earths like are used in solar panels and other electronics. The caption gives the statistics:

    1,100,000 in weight
    16 cylinders – 3,000 hp.
    264 qt. of oil.
    Burns ~1 gallon of fuel every 30 seconds.
    137 gallons per engine hour.
    1,100 gallons per 8 hour day … EACH!

    And this is only ONE of many different machines necessary …

  8. sunweb on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 12:02 pm 

    Thanks Makati1 for referring to the site. I just had another discussion with a friend who supports solar and in fact her husband installs them, so there is a willful blindness. Our discussion initiated another essay from me

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2014/03/reality-again.html As a retired psychologist, I have always been curious about denial. This book nails it. It is from a sociologist and is incredible.
    Norgaard, Kari Marie. 2001. Living in Denial. MIT. Cambridge.

  9. Jerry L on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 1:34 pm 

    The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use.

  10. bobinget on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 2:05 pm 

    All conventional power production (except hydro, geothermal, 100% water)
    utilize STEAM turbines.

    Nuclear Power wastes so much heat plants need be located near plentiful water for cooling. Look what happened at Fukushima when power to pump cooling water was unavailable..

    WHEN, not if water becomes too warm in surrounding bodies Nukes need be turned off or somehow pre-cool so called cooling water. This obviously involves
    greater energy wasted.

    In fact if one stops to think
    about how coal burning plants have polluted almost every river and stream in America and elsewhere, how radio active water is central to Fukushima disaster,
    it’s not the water directly used in electricity production we should be concerned about.

  11. Kenz300 on Fri, 28th Mar 2014 9:18 pm 

    How much water is used in fracking?

    TOO MUCH !

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