Water needs may limit shale gas, wind energy save water

A study from the World Policy Institute (WPI), presented recently before the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., finds that droughts may hamper the development of natural gas from shale (shale gas) and some renewable energy technologies, notably hydropower, biofuels and solar thermal electric generation.

An article in the British newspaper The Guardian, reprinted in SolveClimate News, discusses the WPI report in some detail, but oddly fails to mention that wind power requires virtually no water. Still, it’s in the report, on p. 4: "Wind turbines and solar power photovoltaic electricity consume minimal water and are the most water-efficient forms of conventional or alternative electricity production."

Wind farm therefore appears to be an exception to the report’s rather sweeping statement: "Based on existing data, the most startling finding is that (with some notable exceptions) both traditional and existing alternative energy technologies are evolving toward higher water consumption per unit of energy produced."

The report in general appears to be a plea to raise awareness of the water-energy connection (its title is "The Water-Energy Nexus: Adding Water to the Energy Agenda") and to encourage policy makers to take water into account as they fashion energy policy.

By Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog/