Published: June 5, 2015

    Water for Energy, Energy for Water

    Water and energy production in the United States are intimately connected. It requires energy to transport, purify, and treat water. On the other hand, water is vital for energy production, whether through hydroelectricity or oil, natural gas, and coal production. The power plants that supply our electricity require enormous amounts of water for cooling purposes.

    This interdependence can have unforeseen consequences. In California, for instance, a four-year drought has seen a shift in the state’s energy use from hydroelectricity to natural gas—a shift which increased the state’s energy costs by $1.4 billion a year.

    The effects can also be seen at a local level. Farmers in Modesto, California used 18% more energy in 2014 that they did in pre-drought years. The exact reason is unknown, but it’s speculated the increase originates in the need to pump more water from underground aquifers.

    The amount of water required to cool the nation’s power plants is nothing less than staggering. According to the Congressional Research Service, 44% of the water drawn in the United States is used to cool power plants. Of that amount, 6% is consumed during cooling. The remainder is returned to local waterways at higher than normal temperatures, which has an effect on local ecosystems.

    The interdependence of water and energy is such that the lack of one has a significant effect on the other. A lack of water to cool power plants can result in generators shutting down to avoid heat damage, increasing demand on the surrounding utility grid and causing brownouts.

    At a personal level, all the water we consume costs energy, so wasting water also wastes energy. The same is true in reverse—leaving a light burning all night consumes water as well as electricity.

    One of the great strengths of Pelican products is their energy and water efficiency. Our water filtration systems require no electricity to operate, and produce no wastewater. You get tastier, cleaner water without putting more pressure on an interdependent system that’s increasingly under strain.