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December 31, 2011

Power plants generate losses in fresh water

I find it interesting that the way we generate electricity not only affects how much pollution is made, but also directly affects our fresh water supply.

I’m an environmental scientist working in the Kansas City area. My consulting firm compiles data that our clients use to make decisions on how to improve the environmental performance of their products and services.

In our work, clients have only recently requested we inventory water consumption over the life cycle of their products. It turns out that the aggregate water consumption in a product system is almost always directly correlated with the amount of aggregate electricity used in the system.

This occurs because about half of the electricity generated by the average electricity grid is produced by a coal-fired power plant — a huge water user. Although the coal-fired plants return much of the cooling water, they still cause significant fresh water loss from evaporation and degradation of water quality. Wind and solar plants require no water during operation.

So each kilowatt hour of coal-fired electricity that’s replaced with wind or solar not only has the potential to provide jobs and bring money to the state. It also decreases pollution and improves our water security.

Rebe Feraldi
Overland Park

Comments

whispering_to_kc

Solyndra used different solar technology than their competitors. As the price of more conventional solar panels fell (along with Chinese competition) Solyndra's stuff couldn't match the drop in price and they folded up. Solyndra's failure didn't have anything to do with the viability of solar energy.

Taking advantage of wind energy doesn't mean we'll be "sitting in the dark and freezing" when the wind isn't blowing.

Agro1981

The problem with solar is when you need it the most you get it the least. Wind generation is, at best, 60% efficient. I'm as liberal as they come but I'll be d@mned if I'm going to sit in the dark and freeze my butt off just because someone doesn't want me to burn a lump of coal to have some electricity.

Bigvarmit

The problem with solar is there aren't enough buyers. Solyna proved that in California. We spend over 500 million of our tax dollars to prove it. Wind is ok, but there are so many people who don't want it in their back yards of near them.

 
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