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EPRI has identified water resource sustainability and its relation to
electric power as one of the key challenges within EPRI's Electricity
Technology Roadmap. This report presents an overview of present and
future freshwater availability and generation demand for fresh water in
the United States. The report takes a first step toward development of
a comprehensive framework for evaluating possible impacts of water
supply limitations on electric power generation and management
approaches to limiting these impacts. Information provided will be of
particular value to power generation and delivery managers and
planners, as well as government energy and water resource managers and
BackgroundSeveral years ago, EPRI identified water availability as major factor
influencing future power development both nationally and
internationally. As a result, EPRI developed a water sustainability
module for the EPRI Electricity Technology Roadmap. At the same time,
with the support of members in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL),
Watershed and Ecosystem Issues Program, EPRI initiated research to
develop a comprehensive framework to evaluate potential power industry
susceptibility to water availability shortages.
Objective• To survey present and future freshwater availability and
generation demand for freshwater in the United States.
• To initiate development of a comprehensive framework for
evaluating possible impacts of water supply limitations on electric
power generation and management approaches to limiting such impacts.
ApproachInvestigators computed and mapped various metrics characterizing water
use. Based on these metrics, they calculated and mapped two composite
indices—a Water Supply Sustainability Index and a Thermoelectric
Cooling Constraint Index. The first index identifies regions of the
country where water sustainability concerns are likely to be most
severe, while the second identifies regions where constraints on
cooling water withdrawals for power generation are expected to be
significant. These indices can be used to identify areas for more
detailed analysis. A case study for the Phoenix, Arizona area is
included in this report.
ResultsBased on the metrics used and indices calculated, areas vulnerable to
water availability shortages and water-induced constraints on electric
power generation are not limited to the arid and semi-arid West and
Southwest, but occur throughout the United States. Vulnerability will
increase over the next quarter of a century as a result of greater
demands for fresh water associated with population growth. Climate
change and growing concerns about environmental protection may also
exacerbate the situation.
Although the maps of water sustainability created for this study use
the best available information today, there is a need for improved
data, particularly in the following areas: 1) instream flow
requirements for ecological protection; 2) water (reservoir and
groundwater) storage and withdrawal capacity; and 3) fine temporal
resolution of water use. From the standpoint of thermoelectric
generation, the study finds that many power plants will need to be
located in areas facing water shortages and will thus require
comprehensive evaluation of the tradeoffs in using less or no water.
EPRI PerspectiveEPRI's Electricity Technology Roadmap provides a long-term (20-50 year)
global vision for a robust and environmentally sustainable energy
future. Societal and economic health are highly dependent on the
availability of electric power, while electric power generation and
delivery are, in turn, highly dependent on the availability of water.
To address the challenge of energy/water sustainability, EPRI has
created a Water Sustainability Initiative and has incorporated water
sustainability research into its base research program within the Water
and Ecosystems Area. EPRI is working cooperatively with the U.S.
Department of Energy (USDOE) and USDOE national laboratories to create
a national research program that will address the energy/water nexus.
In partnership with Public Service Company of New Mexico and Los Alamos
National Laboratory, EPRI has created the ZeroNet Water-Energy Research
Initiative, a comprehensive integrated research program, to meet New
Mexico's increasing electric power demand without increasing net fresh
water withdrawals for power plant cooling. Finally, EPRI is working
with the California Energy Commission and Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory to organize a workshop to identify major energy/water
sustainability issues in California.
For further information about EPRI, call the EPRI Customer Assistance Center at (800) 313-3774 or email email@example.com