Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gulpers & Sippers: Ranking Gas, Coal, Nukes, Wind By Gallons Per Kilowatt-hour

In more areas around the USA and world, water is becoming a constraint on development. That is increasingly true for power generation too.  Indeed, water is joining the capital and fuel costs of a new power plant, as critical variables in deciding what type of power plant to build in various locations.

As with capital costs and fuel costs, power generation technologies vary greatly on how much water they need to operate, whether measured at the power plant or over the lifecycle of the fuel used to make electricity.

According to a new report, natural gas powered electricity requires 1.5 gallons per kilowatt-hour; nuclear power 2.9 gallons per kwh; and coal-fired generation 7.1 gallons per kwh.

By contrast to gas, coal, and nuclear, wind and solar photovoltaic require tiny amounts of water.  Solar thermal plants, however, are more water intensive.


  1. Looks like they exclude hydro fracking from nat gas upstream estimate.... Anyone have an up to date estimate on water use with modern technology?

  2. Page 10 of the report has a lifecycle chart, including fracking.

  3. The report actually states that it excluded fracking from their life cycle analysis. Odd considering it's relavence to the industry.