When we think of water usage in our homes, we tend to think of our showers, sinks, and appliances. Do you ever consider that when you turn on your lights, air conditioning, and microwave oven that you are using water? If not, you are not alone which is why it is important for homeowners and business owners to be aware that water is used to generate electricity.
Several Methods for Using Water for Electricity
There are several methods for generating electricity and they all involve using water. Interestingly, the hydro-electric power uses more water than any other method. Each kilowatt hour requires approximately nine gallons of water. Much of the water used in hydropower sources comes from reservoirs and much of that water evaporates. In drought-stricken California, it is important to know where electricity comes from; Lake Mead, a major source, has serious problems with evaporation, due to the heat of the arid desert Southwest.
Steam Creates Thermoelectric Energy
Thermoelectric plants generate the majority of electricity in the United States. In order to produce electricity, these plants need to boil water to create steam. The steam then turns the turbine so electricity can be created. Eventually, the water needs to be cooled so the steam can become water again. It does not matter if the heat comes from coal, gas, or nuclear sources, it requires the use of water.
Water Lost to Evaporation
Some thermoelectric plants use natural water sources, like rivers or lakes, to cool the water. Plants also might have a cooling pond or a circulating system that uses recycled water. Unlike the hydropower sources, the thermoelectric power plants often return the water to the original source. But in hot climates, much of the water is used for evaporation. There is often a significant water waste thermoelectric plants because items are often sent through cooling water more than one time each day.
Ranking the Three Power Plants
When it comes to using water for creating energy, power plants that use natural gas require the least amount of water. Coal plants and nuclear plants use over a half of a gallon of water for each kilowatt hour generated. That is a serious amount of water. The natural gas plants use less than a fifth of a gallon of water for the same amount of energy production. Most of the water in a coal plant is consumed in evaporation and the rest of the water is used in transportation and mining. Nuclear plants use most of their water for cooling and recirculation. Natural gas plants use water for a variety of reasons, but most researchers do not consider the water used to frack for natural gas, which can use millions of gallons for a single well.
Interestingly, alternative power generators use more water than most people think they do. Solar power requires water in the parabolic troughs. In some solar generators, a full gallon of water is needed to create one kilowatt hour of energy. When solar power is used in dry and sunny climates, even more water needs to be used.
Alternative Energy Uses Less Water
The best option for electricity without water comes from wind turbines and photovoltaic systems. The only time that water is needed for these types of power generators is during the manufacturing process. Fortunately, these two types of power generators are the ones being installed the most.
Turn Off What You Are Not Using
Conserving water does not just involve using less in the kitchen, bathroom, and yard. We need to turn off our computers, appliances, and televisions as often as we can. It might not seem like one homeowner can make a difference, but if we all think differently and turn off what we can – we will make a difference.
To learn more about how you can save water and money by reducing the usage of electricity, give Scott English Plumbing a call.