Friday, March 27, 2009

Lack of Water Presses Coal-fired Plants in West

The lack of dependable (and adequate) sources of water is beginning to weigh heavily on coal- and gas-fired power generators in the American west. These types of facilities require enormous amounts of water, and in many parts of the American west water is in short supply.

An article in The Wall Street Journal ("Water worries shape local energy decisions," March 26, 2009, page A3) says, "Advocates for alternative energy are discovering that water issues may prove to be as important a selling point for the industry as reducing carbon dioxide emissions."

The story called attention to a recent U.S. Energy Department report that indicated a megawatt of energy generated by a gas-fired plant requires between 200 and 600 gallons of water. A megawatt generated by a wind turbine? Zero.

Putting this issue in a national perspective is the observation by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that the relationship between energy generation and water has become more important "in [power plant] permitting decisions across the country."

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