Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ranking Power Plant Technologies By Water Usage

In a post on April 5th, we saw that all power plants in Pennsylvania withdraw each day 6.43 billion gallons per day out of a total of 9.48 billion gallons per day.

Now let's drill down and see how the different generation technologies rank on water usage, going from using the most to the least.  Rankings are based on gallons used per megawatt-hour of electric production.

1. Nuclear: Approximately 840 gallons/megawatt-hour.

2. Coal: Approximately 760 gallons/megawatt-hour

3. Concentrated Solar: Approximately 720 gallons/megawatt-hour

4. Gas: Approximately 600 gallons/megawatt-hour

5. Combined Cycle Gas: 240 gallons/megawatt-hour

6. Wind: Zero

7. Solar PV: Zero

Pennsylvania is blessed with abundant water resources.  It is a major comparative advantage to many states in the West that are dependent on snow melt for water, a source that has been declining with rising temperatures.

Having said that, wise stewardship of water use is required in Pennsylvania.  Droughts here can make water scarce locally, regionally or statewide.

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