Water: A key resource in energy production

Water and energy are the key resources required for both economic and population growth, and yet both are increasingly scarce. The distribution of water takes large amounts of energy, while the production of energy requires large amounts of water in processes such as thermal plant cooling systems or raw materials extraction. This study analyzes the water needs for energy production in Spain according to the energy source sector (electricity, transportation or domestic) and process type (extraction and refining of raw materials or thermal plant use). Current and future water needs are quantified according to energy demand and technology mix evolution. Hypothetical scenarios that simulate the risks of promoting specific energy policies are also analyzed. Results show that the combination of energy resources used in Spain is projected to be more than 25% more water consumptive in 2030 than in 2005 under ceteris paribus conditions. Renewable energies are mixed in terms of their consequences on the water supply; wind power can reduce water withdrawal, while the biofuels production is a water-intensive process. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Published in:
Energy Policy, 37, 4303-4312

 Record created 2010-11-30, last modified 2018-03-17

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