There are major water-related implications involved with making energy generation choices Robin L. Newmark, Director of the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently told Denver Law students.
She also noted that producing clean water and handling discharged water also takes electricity, thus making the link between water and electricity even more profound.
"Many new electricity technologies are water intensive, meaning that demands on water are increased even more," Dr. Newmark said. Among the new types of technologies she referred to are carbon capture and sequestration, which when combined with a coal or gas fired power plant may mean up to a 100 percent increase in the use of water over the status quo. She also noted that to reuse brackish water or desalinize sea water takes a considerable amount of energy.
Water is also used in large quantities in the extraction of shale gas, she noted, which is a technology that is only now being developed in the oil and gas sector. Moreover, nuclear power generation is very water intensive. The process of developing ethanol also involves very high amounts of water. As a result, "life cycle assessments" that consider the water and electricity impacts of various forms of energy will become more widespread, she said.
Also joining the Denver Law students were members of the University of Denver Renewable Energy Science Community and Enterprise (RESCUE), which is chaired by DU Law Professor K.K. DuVivier.
Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program, said that Dr. Newmark's remarks were timely and important. "As Dr. Newmark so clearly pointed out, water and electricity issues are intertwined and will be considered together as we move forward. Having a leader of the caliber of Dr. Newmark speak to us was a great experience, and indicates again the caliber of leaders who come to Denver Law and share their observations and experiences."
To see Dr. Newmark's Powerpoint presentation, please click here.