Protecting our most precious resource: water

California’s ongoing drought serves as a stark reminder that water may well be our most precious resource.

Luckily, wind power helps conserve billions of gallons every year.

In 2013 alone, wind saved over 35 billion gallons of water. To put that into perspective, that works out to 120 gallons per person, or the equivalent of 285 million water bottles. Even better, these savings will only increase as American wind energy continues to grow.

However, you may be wondering just how that works. Let’s take a look.

Convention power plants use a LOT of water

Conventional power plants, like the ones that burn coal or natural gas, create a lot of heat. To keep those plants running and generating electricity, they need to be cooled off. Otherwise, they could overheat and shut down.

To do this, they withdraw an estimated 22 to 62 trillion gallons of water annually. That’s so much that the power sector currently withdraws more water than any other sector in the United States- even more than agriculture.

To understand just how much that is, know that the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated U.S. power plants withdrew enough water every day in 2008 to supply as many as 170 cities the size of New York.

How wind helps

Wind power helps conserve so much water because it doesn’t need any to cool turbines down. Creating electricity from the wind uses no fuel and no water, and it doesn’t create problematic excess heat. All of the megawatts a wind farm creates displace the need for a water-hogging conventional power plant.

In 2015, wind energy comprised 47 percent of all new U.S. electricity generation. If conventional power plants were used instead, they would have needed massive amounts of water for cooling every day. But because it was wind, not a gallon will be required.

As American wind energy continues to grow, it will help preserve more of this crucial resource each and every year.

To learn more about how wind saves water in places like California, check out this post.