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Friday, March 16, 2018

World Water Day: How Solar and Wind Power Save the Water Supply


woman drinking a clean glass of water

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. 

When you think of conserving water, you probably think of the obvious things: take quick showers, fix leaky taps, and watch how much water you use on your lawn or garden. All effective practices for sure, but… 

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. How’s that, you ask? 

Climate-Related Water Shortages Affect Electricity Generation 

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. 

As the whole planet continues to warm, water is warmer, less abundant, and less accessible. Around the world 780 million people don’t have access to water. In the United States alone, water shortages affects 14 million households each year.

Fossil Fuel Based Power Plants Use a Lot of Water 

Both fossil fuel and nuclear energy plants need water—and lots of it. Most were built on the idea that water was an abundant resource that didn’t need to be limited or conserved. 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 is the Solution to Saving and Protecting Water 

Research shows that electricity generated by solar and wind power requires 4-6 times more water than the 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 like the Southwest, 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. In 2016, wind energy generated 226 million megawatt-hours, conserving about 87 billion gallons of water, the equivalent of 266 gallons per person, or 657 billion bottles of water. 

Clearly, the more power Americans tap into solar and wind power, the more water we save. Water not spent cooling power plants or extracting fossil fuels is water that can be used for drinking, bathing, washing, and cooking. 

You can save water, and the planet, 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 by wind and solar power. Learn how to switch your home or business to 100% pollution-free renewable energy!


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