The Bottom Line:
- World Water Day reminds us about the precious resource that all life depends on—water
- A warming world from climate change requires smart water use and protection
- Using solar and wind energy to generate electricity is much less water-intensive than what’s needed by gas and coal power plants to create electricity
Each March, World Water Day reminds us that water is precious and not to be taken for granted. Established in 1993 by the United Nations to be observed every March 22nd, it’s an international day to recognize the importance and availability of clean water (or the shortage of it) around the globe.
One of the best ways to save water and protect a healthy supply of it is by switching to renewable energy, specifically solar or wind power.
Climate-Related Water Shortages Affect Electricity Generation
With global warming from climate change, water is warmer, less abundant, and less accessible. Around the world 780 million people don’t have access to clean water. In the United States alone, water is "too expensive" for 14 million households each year.
Of all the freshwater the United States uses, 41 percent is used for cooling power plants. An additional 37 percent is used for agriculture, and only 13 percent is used for drinking water.
Fossil Fuel Based Power Plants Use a Lot of Water
Both fossil fuel and nuclear energy plants need water—and lots of it. The plants need water to cool steam and equipment parts, and the water can’t be too warm. When the water is already warm going in, plants have to spend more energy cooling the water, which then affects how much electricity they can produce.
Fossil fuel-based power plants also rely on a lot of water to extract, refine, process, and transport fuel, and to control dangerous emissions from power plants. These power plants are also known for contaminating community water supplies, due to the chemicals used during production that then get dumped into local waters.
Renewable Energy Saves and Protects Water
Research shows that electricity generated by solar and wind power requires much less water than fuels like nuclear, coal, and oil.
Solar arrays do use some water: mainly to wash dust or other debris off panels to keep them operating at peak efficiency or, on some days in very hot regions, to cool off overheated panels. But the amount of water they consume is drastically less than other energy generating methods. Photovoltaic cells require only four ounces of water for every kilowatt-hour they produce.
Wind energy uses even less water than solar, requiring only about a tenth of an ounce of water for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated.
Clearly, the more power Americans tap into solar and wind power, the more water we save and used for other needs, like for drinking, bathing, washing, and cooking.
You can help save water by choosing clean energy. Here at CleanChoice Energy, our mission from day one has been to make clean energy accessible to everyone by supplying electricity sourced from wind and solar power. Learn how you can switch your home or business to 100% pollution-free renewable energy!