A new Duke study has found that the US industry’s water use has reduced drastically. The increasing use of natural gas and other renewables have led the change. The study is a major positive for the fight on climate change globally. Additionally, it makes an important argument for switching from coal.
According to Avner Vengosh, professor of Geochemistry at Duke, the switch is helping save billions of gallons of water. This benefit remains largely unnoticed among the discussions about other aspects of renewables.
The large use and wastage of water can result in several unintended consequences like shale gas production, and freckling. As per the study, the renewables have resulted in nearly 10,500 gallons reduction per every megawatt of electricity. This number is massive as it is the equivalent of a 100-day water supply for an average American household.
The Wind of a Big Change
Moreover, the use of renewable energy also drops power plant’s water usage by 260 gallons per megawatt. According to the Duke study, the use of renewables can help reduce about 483 billion cubic meters of water each year by 2030. Furthermore, if all coal plants in the world are converted to renewables, the annual water-savings will reach 12,250 billion gallons. This usage is 260% of the current annual US industrial water use.
This largely happens as nearly 40% of water usage currently goes to cooling thermoelectric plants. Coal mining and freckling uses a similar level of water. However, there is more incentive for industries to switch to renewables as it means substantial savings.
This is expected to be a major boost for the thermoelectric plants. These plants require a heavy usage of water. This is larger than its use in coal mining, ore, coal washing, and gas transportation, and fracking.
Furthermore, the study also reveals that switching to solar would be an additional progress in water savings. Similarly, wind energy can also be a boon for coal-based plants globally.