Running on empty: the electricity-water Nexus and the U.S. electric utility sector

Sovacool, Benjamin (2009) Running on empty: the electricity-water Nexus and the U.S. electric utility sector. Energy Law Journal, 30 (1). pp. 11-51. ISSN 0270-9163

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Abstract

This article explores the consequence of the growing water needs of the United States electric utility industry. It argues that an impending scarcity of water could complicate continued reliance on thermoelectric power plants that combust fossil fuels or utilize nuclear fission to generate power. The article begins by explaining the electricity-water nexus and noting how conventional power plants “use” water by withdrawing and consuming it, placing a special emphasis on the different cooling cycles for thermoelectric power plants. The article then focuses on how the water needs of the electricity industry may engender a series of water and power crises in eight future metropolitan areas— Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco—where water resources will be scarce or declining, especially if electricity demand grows as expected. The final part of the article emphasizes what electric utilities can do to minimize their water needs, particularly by halting all future thermoelectric power plant construction, promoting energy efficiency, deploying renewable power stations, and distributing information and more accurate price signals to electricity customers.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Benjamin Sovacool
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 13:39
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2016 10:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58161
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