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The Water in Your Energy



Energy and water, two of the elements in our society that is modern, are inextricably connected. In our prior articles regarding the water-energy nexus, we discussed the massive energy requirements, also also corresponding greenhouse gas influences, of transporting, treating, and disposing of water in California. As an example, the power used to maneuver, handle, and eliminate water accounts for nearly 20% of all power used in the Golden State, and over the entire state of Oregon uses for any purpose. On the other hand, the converse of this relationship is also accurate: the production of energy and fuel is water-intensive. Refine, extract, create, and A tremendous amount of water can be used to mine sources of electricity.

The Water Supply Landscape

Water scarcity is already a top concern in the northeast United States, and is expected to intensify with continued economic and population growth, urbanization, droughts, and heat waves due to climate change. The Colorado River, which provides water to over 40 million people, has been stressed with a 19-year drought. [1] Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country ’s biggest reservoirs, are currently at 41 percent and 40% potential, respectively. Seven states, including California, recently negotiated increase the amount of these reservoirs and a burial plan to stop disaster. As 72 percent of San Diego&rsquowater supply came in the Colorado River between 2012 and 2017, the criticality of water conservation cannot be overstated. Included in these water conservation efforts, smart, water-conscious consumption and energy generation are essential to our path.

The “Water-Cost” of Energy

More than 80% of all power generated in United States is generated by thermoelectric plants. These plants burn coal, gas, oil, or even use fuels to warm water which create power and drive steam turbines. [2] Thermoelectric plants need huge amounts of water to cool the vapor, such that in 2015, thermoelectric power accounted for over 40% of water withdrawals across the United States. [3] This is why the majority of power plants are located next to large bodies of water. A lot of the water used for heating is returned to its origin at a higher temperature than when it had been removed, contributing thermal pollution to these waterbodies, which may have grave impacts on aquatic ecosystems (but that’another problem for another day). [4]

California’consumption habits and s energy generation methods differ from a lot of the rest of the nation. Despite having the greatest population and economy within the United States, our state’s per capita energy consumption is the second smallest in the nation as a result of a temperate climate, and long-term energy efficiency policies. [5] California’s renewables portfolio standard requires 60 percent of the state’so power to come from renewables by 2030, and 100% by 2045. [6] In San Diego, roughly 43 percent of energy currently comes from renewable sources like wind and solar, and the vast majority of the rest comes in natural gas fueled plants. [7] These energy sources are usually not as water-intensive than thermoelectric plants everywhere in the United States. Newer organic gas-fueled plants and many industrial solar processes utilize “closed-cycle” systems (which, to be transparent, still use a great deal of water, less than the water utilized by older, aged plants), in which heating water is recirculated, while wind turbines and solar photovoltaics need minimal amounts of water to create energy. [8]

Therefore, water-energy nexus problems linked to California’s energy generation and consumption center around petroleum. California’s electricity consumption profile is dominated by transportation. [9] Unfortunately, oil products continue to be the predominant energy source of the transportation industry, accounting for approximately 92% of total U.S. transportation energy use in 2018. [10] According to this U.S. Energy Information Administration, California is currently the largest consumer of motor gasoline in the United States, and virtually each of the oil consumed in the country is used for transportation. [11] However, California’s ties to oil extend far beyond its car-centric way of life. Those people who have driven through the state’s tangle of highways have probably found the eye-sores of off-shore oil derricks and pumpjacks dotting the landscape. Home to some of the country ’s biggest oil-fields, California is the fourth-largest manufacturer of crude petroleum in the U.S., behind only Texas, North Dakota, and Alaska. [12] Furthermore, California accounts for one-tenth of all U.S. optimizing capacity, behind only Texas and Louisiana. [13]

Oil extraction is water intensive, even though the amount of water is extremely dependent upon the method of extraction. Main production uses water that is little, and uses air pressure to force oil to maneuver through rock pores to attain oil colonies. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) estimate that main production uses only 0.8 to 2.0 gallons of water per thousand BTU generated (roughly 0.11 to 0.28 gallons of water each gallon crude petroleum ). [14] However, secondary healing, also called “improved ” petroleum recovery includes the injection of large quantities of steam or water to a well, and can be estimated to use anywhere from 14 to 2,500 gallons of water per million BTU generated (roughly 1.93 to 345.3 gallons of water each gallon of crude petroleum ). [15] As California has had a moratorium on leasing national public land and mineral estates to petroleum companies for the past five decades, most oil extraction operations at the country are older, and consequently more likely to demand greater quantities of water every barrel of oil produced. California generated 7,308,000,000 gallons of petroleum. [16]

Refining crude oil can be a water-intensive process. In the United States, optimizing a gallon of petroleum requires on average about 1.5 gallons of water. The Berkeley Lab study estimates that, when combined with all the water required to extract every gallon of petroleum, involving 3.6 and 7.0 gallons of water are used to create and refine 1 gallon of crude petroleum in the United States. For petroleum extracted in California, this probably represents a conservative estimate given that the more water-intensive extraction methods used in the country, which may require orders of magnitude more water than oil extracted with main production methods. Therefore, the amount of water necessary to generate a gallon of oil may be higher in California.

Your Commute May Use More Water Than Your Shower

The San Diego Association of Governments (“SANDAG”-RRB- quotes the average vehicle miles traveled (“VMT”-RRB- per capita each day will likely be 23.6 miles in 2020. Estimates indicate a total of 3/4 of a gallon of water is required to extract, refine and transport the oil used to drive 1 mile. [17] Thus, the typical daily commute in San Diego uses roughly 17.7 gallons of water. By comparison, the typical American shower uses only 17.2 gallons of the water. [18] Furthermore, the single highest use of water in the normal home is toilet flushing. Yet in a house with ultra-low-flow bathrooms, the average daily water use per individual simply is 9.1 g. [19] Hence, the sail for most San Diegans might consume more water than the maximum source of water usage in their dwelling.

Less is More

As mentioned in our previous water-energy nexus posts , reducing waste is more economical and easier than raising supply. The gasoline you burn, the more water you save. On one level, there are a number of strategies you can use to lower your fuel use and related water footprint: find carpool chances; take public transportation; walk or ride a bicycle whenever possible; maintain your vehicle properly maintained to ensure it’s functioning efficiently; and to your next vehicle, look at a hybrid or electrical (you know you need that Tesla).

In the transportation sector a reduction in fuel-related water consumption can be achieved by both improving vehicle performance criteria, and by reducing VMT. The water demands for biofuels that are producing outweigh that of oil extraction although biofuels can reduce carbon emissions associated with fossil fuels. As an example, normally, 14,000 gallons of water have to create 1 gallon of biodiesel from soybeans. [20] However, there are there are lots of policies and region-wide activities that have huge capacity to reduce VMTs in the San Diego area. Coastkeeper supports and advocates for smart policies which implement enhanced public transportation, streamlined growth near transit centers, and well-planned communities to ensure walking, biking, and public transportation are viable, appealing choices. We partner with other regional associations and stakeholders which bring additional experience to the table, and leverage our relationships with elected officials to advocate and accept these policies throughout San Diego. Through strategic cooperation and efficient advocacy, we can move the needle on reducing consumption of the water and energy within our area. Coupled with the uncertain potential for intensifying climate affects, thoughtful, intentional action to reduce our footprint, reduce waste, and improve efficiency in both the water and energy sectors is critical, and Coastkeeper is committed to making certain there is a strong environmental voice in each room where conclusions about our area ’s water and energy potential are being made.

Make Certain to check out these additional posts of this nexus to learn more:

Where Water And Energy Collide

The Water-Energy Nexus: A Deeper Look

[1] https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2019/05/20/colorado-river-drought-deal-signed-hoover-dam-water-challenges-contingency-plan/1194657001/.

[2] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=electricity_in_the_united_states. Gas: 35%, Coal: 27%, Nuclear: 19 percent. Complete: 81 percent.

[3] https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2018/3035/fs20183035.pdf.

[4] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/10/104011/pdf.

[5] https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=CA.

[6] Cal. Public Utilities Code §399.11 et seq.. Cal. Public Resources Code §25740 et seq.. Assembly Bill 327 (2013); Senate Bill 350 (2015); Senate Bill 100 (2018).

[7] http://www.sdgenews.com/article/how-natural-gas-fuels-san-diegos-power-plants

[8] https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt5pr6r5h6/qt5pr6r5h6.pdf?t=mqvmjo

[9] https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=CA#11

[10] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=us_energy_transportation

[11] https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=CA#11.


[13] Id.

[14] https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt5pr6r5h6/qt5pr6r5h6.pdf?t=mqvmjo

[15] Id.

[16] file://C:/Users/SDCK/Downloads/2017_Preliminary_Annual_Report.pdf.

[17] https://www.watercalculator.org/save-water/gasoline/; https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es800367m.

[18] https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/showers

[19] https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/toilets

[20] https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt5pr6r5h6/qt5pr6r5h6.pdf?t=mqvmjo

The post The Water on Your Energy appeared on San Diego Coastkeeper.

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