The ongoing transition from coal to natural gas and renewables in the U.S. electricity sector is dramatically reducing the industry’s water use, a new Duke University study finds.
“While most attention has been focused on the climate and air quality benefits of switching from coal, this new study shows that the transition to natural gas – and even more so, to renewable energy sources – has resulted in saving billions of gallons of water,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
These savings in both water consumption and water withdrawal have come despite the intensification of water use associated with fracking and shale gas production, the new study shows.
“For every megawatt of electricity produced using natural gas instead of coal, the amount of water withdrawn from local rivers and groundwater is reduced by 10,500 gallons, the equivalent of a 100-day water supply for a typical American household,” said Andrew Kondash, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke, who led the study as part of his doctoral dissertation under Vengosh.
Water consumption – the amount of water used by a power plant and never returned to the environment – drops by 260 gallons per megawatt, he said.
Continue reading at Duke University
Image via Duke University