Category Archives: The transition to new energy

Waste What: My Own Personal Landfill

We all know what trash is like- ugly, smelly, and dirty. So why on earth would I chose to carry it around with me for a day?

The minute we dump garbage into a trashcan, we are helping to creating a physical landfill. Out of sight, out of mind, right? This doesn’t have to be the case.

By carrying around my garbage for a day, I hoped to become more conscious of my waste habits. Follow along with my journal entries to discover just what exactly we throw into the can and where that trash can go.

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7:30am: First things first, I need to find my mobile trash can. Luckily I’m able to put this grocery bag into reuse.

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8:30am: I just created my first waste for the day. The remnants of breakfast- a banana peel and yogurt container!

9:00am: So I realized the banana peel smells, and I get to carry around that with me too. Cool.

12:50pm: After eating a salad for lunch, I now have my second source of waste for the day. I wasn’t hungry enough to finish the whole thing, so I have now added a plastic take-out box and soggy lettuce leaves to the bin.

2:15pm: Someone just asked me why I’m carrying around an old banana, as they preceded to crinkle their nose in my general direction. Looks like I’ve become a trash can too.

My personal mobile trash can

4:10pm: Documenting my most recent trash update. I did a little bit of cleaning in my pantry, so an old cereal box and two granola bar boxes are now being carried with me.

4:45pm: Went to Sugarland and got gelato, so a small plastic bowl and spoon is added to my bag. I actually accidentally tossed this into the trash can, so fishing it back out got me a few weird looks. I never realized that throwing trash away is such compulsive behavior. We really don’t give our waste habits a second thought

6:30pm:  I was starving for dinner, so no food waste here. Luckily the restaurant will be washing their bowl, cup, and silverware for reuse. Unfortunately they did print a receipt, so that was added to the bag.

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9:00pm: Status update- just finished off a gallon of lemonade!

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11:15pm: Just did some homework, so I’ve added old scrap paper and a mechanical pencil. I’ve concluded that this should be all of the trash I will be generating for the day. At least I hope so, otherwise I might need another bag soon. Let’s see how this breaks down:

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The best way to manage trash is as follows: reduce, reuse, recycle or compost, create energy, and finally, landfill.

When considering their own habits, consumers should recognize that reducing consumption is the best way to manage their waste. Landfilling should be the last possible option consumers should consider.

The first pile to the far left includes materials that should be sorted and composted- the banana peel, salad, and organic nut bar. The salad container should then be recycled, and the bar’s packaging sent to the second pile.

This second pile includes trash that can be used in a waste-to-energy facility- old paper, bags, etc. However, this trash would first be sorted by the facility. They would ensure no harmful plastics and other materials that would create unsafe air pollution are used in generation.

The final pile includes broken down cardboard boxes, a gallon jug, yogurt container, and magazine. These items should be recycled so their materials can be put into further use.

 

 

FAQ: Waste to Energy?

The trash we create every day is a resource that sits idly in landfills, generating methane emissions and seeping into the ground.

But what if this waste could be used for something useful?

Waste-to-energy is an alternative to traditional waste management. Many countries around the world have begun to turn to waste as a source of energy creation.

 

How does waste-to-energy work?

The most common process involves burning waste to create energy. This trash is referred to as a municipal solid waste source.

Trash enters a plant, is sorted, and stored until use. Waste-to-energy (WTE) plants remove hazardous and recyclable materials before burning.

Trash is added to boilers, where combustion creates a heat or electricity product. The ash by-product, if clean enough, can be used a raw material in other industrial processes, as in road construction.

 

 

Doesn’t that create an air pollution problem?

Like any other power producing plant, waste-to-energy plants generate carbon dioxide emissions. However, these facilities can actually help reduce CO2 emissions.

Ramesh Shankar from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, shared his thoughts on the matter.

“[Waste-to-energy facilities] produce less CO2 per megawatt hour than coal, oil, and natural gas.”

In addition, these facilities help avoid harmful effects of landfills. When trash is sent to landfills, during decomposition it produces methane. This greenhouse gas is a much more potent heat-trapping agent than carbon dioxide.

Waste-to-energy facilities can also help avoid issues of land use. In major cities, finding room for landfills can become a concern. Toxic chemicals from landfills can leak into the ground and contaminate ground water supply.

Morton Barlaz, Head of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University also addressed air pollution concerns.

Baralz stated that “Modern waste to energy combustion facilities have state-of-the-art pollution control and I consider them to be a clean source of energy.”

 

 What does the current marketplace look like for waste-to-energy?

Waste-to-energy is being increasingly considered as a way to diversify energy generation. As many countries attempt to reduce coal use to fight climate change, alternative options are considered.

According to political standards, some countries have more incentive to invest in waste-to-energy generation.

Shankar stated that “Some countries have the cost of CO2 factored in their system so that it incentivizes non- or less-carbon emissions.”

Shankar explained these countries may also be more socially responsible, depending on the amount of available land and a commitment to conservation. He commented that Scandinavian counties seem to be at the forefront of waste management.

“Sweden has to import trash because they are so efficient in disposing their own,” he said.

Sweden is the current leader in waste-to-energy production, with over 99 percent of all household waste avoiding landfills. Western and Northern Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and the USA also remain leaders in solid waste management.

 

So, the environmental and economic impacts outweigh the costs?

It depends.

Ranjith Annepu, founder of the nonprofit ‘be Waste Wise,’ explained an important factor is local conditions.

“For example, if the organic percent of the waste stream is higher than 50%, then WTE is not suitable,” he said.

Annepu also explained that feasibility depends on regulations and tariff fees for electricity in place.

Blair Pollock, Solid Waste Planner at Orange County, North Carolina, cautioned against waste-to-energy as the primary management form. When considering waste-to-energy, Pollock said this should not be a substitute for other forms of waste management.

In the waste hierarchy, reduction and recycling measures always come first. This is more energy and pollution efficient than generating energy from trash. He cautioned that waste-to-energy should not be treated as an alternative that would decrease recycling rates.

Pollock also considers two questions key in the waste-to-energy process.

“Have you retrieved most readily recyclable materials and taken out potentially contaminating type fractions?” Pollock said. “And are you burning it in the most efficient and environmentally sound manner possible?”

5 easy ways you can reduce your energy use at home

One of today’s hot topics is saving energy. Whether you support renewables or prefer to use fossil fuels, conserving energy will help you save money that you can use for that vacation you’ve needed or the new car you’ve always wanted. You don’t need to be Super-man to conserve—these tips will help you become a home energy expert in no time.

 

  1. Use your yard to your advantage

It’s easy to consider your backyard as something that just sucks up water and energy. But, there are steps you can take to reverse this and actually use your yard to save electricity and money. First, make sure to plant mostly native plants. These plants are suited to your climate so you shouldn’t have to use excessive water or buy expensive soil additives to make them grow. Secondly, while keeping native plants in mind, plant trees that can provide shade near your house. Help lessen the heat in your home in the summer, which means less money you need to spend on air conditioning. And, lastly, don’t use your clean, drinking water to water your lawn and plants. It is fairly easy to install a large barrel to collect drinking water from places like your roof that you can then use to water plants.

 

 

  1. Build your home to fit the climate, don’t try to change the climate for your home

This one is really only applicable if you are considering building your own home, but there are many ways to build your house with the climate in mind. For example, if you live in a colder area, north facing windows are a bad idea because they can lose a lot of heat. Windows on the south side of your house are always a good idea. Overhangs will shade windows and stop the sun from overheating the house in the summertime. If you already own a home that is not built with the sun in mind, Phillip Murphy (a relative to the writer), the owner of Proxy homewatch, says that closing the window blinds during the summer when the sun is shining in also helps. In the winter, windows on the south facing side of your home should be left uncovered to let in any heat from the sunshine, according to Murphy. High ceilings will help the hot air rise above the areas that people walk around in. Big windows combined with screens will let in fresh air that cools down the house. If you know the weather where you live and look for a house that takes advantage of this, your energy use could decrease dramatically.

 

 

  1. Be smart with your plugs

Although people have tested and more or less disproved the theory that unused but plugged in chargers waste a lot of energy, other appliances are not so low profile. The U.S. Department of Energy says that people waste 5-10% of their residential energy by keeping appliances plugged in all day. Some appliances that suck up energy are TVs, toasters, lamps, desktop computers, stereos, and coffee makers. Try to turn off these devices if you aren’t using them; it may not seem like a big deal but every bit adds up. Turning off lights is a big energy saver as well. Dwayne Spencer, the technician at Lux apartments, says that he always turns off his lights when not using them, and tries to get by with less light instead of more. It can be hard to remember to unplug to many things, but luckily there are plug in timers to help. Lets say you have a lamp that you like to be on during the day, but off at night. A plug timer will turn off the lamp at a preset time every day, so you don’t have to remember to do it.

 

 

  1. Be more aware of your thermostat

It’s so easy these days to set your thermostat to a temperature like 73 and just forget about it, especially if you live in an apartment. But this can suck up huge amounts of energy. If you turn your thermostat down by 10-15 degrees at night in the winter for 8 hours, you can save 5-15% on your heating bill. That’s a big deal. And if you don’t think you can make it for 8 hours with your living space a bit colder, just turn the thermostat down a couple degrees—you’ll still get some benefits. The same goes for the summer; try to turn down the AC if you’re not going to be at home. If you are home, turn on some overhead fans and open some windows to get a breeze instead of cranking up the air conditioning to full blast. Your wallet will thank you. Along the lines of heating and cooling, Josh Guthrie, the head of residential & commercial Sales for Bullman Heating and Air, says there are many ways to make a difference. You can replace inefficient windows and doors that are sources of leakage and make sure to buy efficient brands. You can also better insulate your attic and crawl space.

 

 

 

  1. Consider renewable energy

While some states have deregulated energy and you can now choose to purchase your energy from renewables, North Carolina lags behind. But, this shouldn’t stop you from considering installing your own renewables at home. Our state isn’t well suited for wind turbines in most places, but solar and geothermal energy will function almost anywhere. The cost of installing solar energy has decreased dramatically in recent years, making it much more affordable. Geothermal energy is advantageous because it doesn’t depend on an uncertain source like the sun. While there are no current subsidies from the state, this could change in the future so be on the lookout. Guthrie says that he gives customers as much information as he can on high efficient and renewable energy, from geothermal all the way to high efficiency heat pumps. He says he gives them his opinion on how going more efficient would benefit them, and that “everyone is receptive to that,’ because they want to save money on utilities. Renewable energy can be helpful in was beyond simple energy conservation as well. Dwayne Spencer says he would love to see solar panels on the roof of Lux apartments because then there would be a backup energy source in case of a blackout, such as the one that happened earlier this year. Whatever you are using it for, renewable energy is always a great way to go.

The History of Energy Efficiency

In today’s world, we have ample opportunities to be conscientious and energy efficient citizens. However, this has not always been the case. In the past, people thought that energy would eventually be quite inexpensive, and global warming was not yet discovered.

First, it is important to establish what exactly energy efficiency means. Something is more energy efficient if it takes less energy than something else to provide the same service. So an energy efficient dishwasher does the same task as a normal one, it just uses less electricity.

It could be said that the path to energy efficiency began with the 1973 oil embargo. Arabs stopped exporting oil to the U.S. because they were supporting Israel in a war against Egypt and Syria. The U.S. was heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil at the time, and the embargo caused vulnerability that had not previously been experienced.

There was a time that had high inflation, high prices for many goods, and fears that we were entering a period of a lack of resources. The combination of these problems led the US to make policies on energy, including energy efficiency.

The first law about energy efficiency was signed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, called the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

When President Carter took office, he founded the Department of Energy, which was a consolidation of the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Federal Power Commission, and others. In the early 1990s, after a period of energy stability in the 80s, Congress made another policy to stay up to date on energy efficiency. Again in 2005, energy policies were updated to include new tax incentives and appliance standards.

More recently, the low prices of oil and natural gas have made maintaining energy efficiency much harder. It’s difficult to care about conserving energy when the benefits are not so easily seen. Involvement in conserving will no doubt take off much more quickly when energy prices being to climb again.

Since Obama has been in office, he has taken steps to address energy efficiency. In December of 2015, the government created a new energy-saving standard directed at commercial air conditioners and furnaces. Increasing the efficiency of these appliances could save $167 billion over the lifetime of the standard, as well as 885 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Renewable energy also can aid energy efficiency. Especially as more research is done and technology develops, renewables such as solar and wind power are becoming more and more efficient. Eventually, resources like these could be the answer to using energy in the best way.

Looking to the future, technologies and policies will continue to change. Phillip Murphy, the owner of Proxy Homewatch, a company that looks after second homes and helps owners become more energy efficient, says that he expects more government regulation in the future.

Murphy says, “I see similar regulation as the ones that outlawed incandescent bulbs as too inefficient—that took care of that”.

In the heating business, there are also developments on the horizon.

Josh Guthrie, the head of residential & commercial Sales for Bullman Heating and Air, says that, “every year it seems like something’s coming out new that’s more efficient than the last.” Water furnaces in particular are constantly being reevaluated and reengineered.

The future of energy efficiency looks bright indeed. Perhaps one day we won’t worry about energy efficiency at all because it will be something everyone takes for granted.

 

Duke Energy Learns From Drought: Increasing Water Efficiency in NC

Cowan's Ford Hydro Station created Lake Norman and generates electricity for Duke Energy.
Cowan’s Ford Hydro Station created Lake Norman and generates electricity for Duke Energy. (Photo via Duke Energy)

When you hear about a power outage, what causes spring to mind? Maybe a thunderstorm during the summer, possibly an ice storm in the winter months. In these cases damaged power lines likely prevented electricity from getting to your home. You may not have thought about how a lack of water could prevent your electricity from ever being generated.

Many don’t realize that water plays a vital role in generating electricity. On average, more water is used to generate your home’s electricity than you use to shower, flush the toilet, and do other daily tasks.

As the largest electric power holding company in the U.S., Duke Energy uses billions of gallons of water every year. Below, we’ll learn more about how Duke uses water and how it is working to conserve water in your state.

 

How much water does Duke Energy use every year?

According to Duke Energy spokesperson Randy Wheeless, Duke withdrew 6,250 billion gallons of water in 2015 and consumed 79 billion gallons of that.

Water withdrawn is water taken out of a reservoir. Most of this water, over 98%, is returned to the source. Water consumed is the amount of water removed and not returned due to evaporation. Water consumed decreased from 93 billion gallons in 2014.

What is this water used for?

Most of Duke’s water use comes from cooling its power plants. Duke’s thermal generation plants convert heat energy to electricity. Such systems generate heat during the electricity-making process and must be cooled to remain functional.

What is Duke doing that reduces the amount of water withdrawn?

Duke has recently retired many old coal power plants and replaced them with natural gas plants.

“When they do that, when they switch from these older coal plants to these newer natural gas plants, they are implicitly switching what type of cooling system they use,” says Dr. Jordan Kern, a research assistant professor at UNC who studies energy and water.

Most natural gas plants generate some of their electricity directly from force created by combustion, rather than relying entirely on steam processes like most coal plants. This means that natural gas plants have less need for cooling than coal plants.

Gas fired plants use about 50 percent less water for cooling than a similar coal plant, according to Wheeless. “As we retire coal plants and replace with natural gas, our overall consumption goes down,” Wheeless says.

Why is it important for Duke to be able to function with less water?

At 800,000 people and counting, Charlotte’s 8.4 percent growth rate poses a risk for Duke. With growing municipalities competing for water and demanding more energy, Duke needs to be able to generate electricity with less water available.

Though Duke’s cooling systems return most of the water to the basin, coal and nuclear plants could be at risk because they require so much withdrawn water. Duke has two major nuclear plants near Charlotte in the Catawba River basin.

“If you’re sucking up a lot of water through a straw and then returning 97% of it back downstream, you still have to have it there in the first place in order to operate the power plants,” says Kern.

Kern says that Duke, like many utilities, is increasingly susceptible to water shortages. “Part of that’s climate, part of that’s growth in that part of the state.”

As climate change continues, scientists expect more extreme weather patterns. This includes more severe droughts.

During the 2007 and 2008 drought, Duke had to make major changes to its energy mix. This included reducing hydroelectric generation by 67% at some points during the drought.

Kern says that the drought was a wake-up call for Duke and that since then the utility has improved on collaborating with municipalities to better manage water. “Compared to many water systems and utilities, I think that group has been pretty progressive in terms of accounting for climate change and uncertainty in the availability of water in the future,”he says.

 

Do Students Know Where Their Water Flows?

Living like the average American requires about 2,000 gallons of water a day. But what is all of that water used for? Five UNC students guessed at which parts of their lifestyles require the most water, then used National Geographic’s Water Footprint Calculator to find out. Check out their reactions below.

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Before

Katie Otto, a communications and women’s studies major at UNC, thought that she used the most water through her dishes being washed in the dining hall. She also guessed that showering and the manufacturing of her computer were at the top of the list.

After

Otto said that seeing her water footprint calculated was an eye-opener.  “I am very surprised that me as just one single person uses so much water,” she said.

Her water footprint for the food section was the most unexpected. “You know you’re using water when you’re showering but you don’t think that a lot of water goes into your dinner,” she said.

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Before

Przemyslaw Pudelko thought he used the most water showering and gardening.

After

Pudelko expressed surprise at how much the average water footprints were, especially in the meat and clothes categories. His footprint was highest in the transportation section, which he said was unexpected.

Pudelko suggested he could buy more local food to reduce the miles his meals travel. He also said he could take shorter showers and use more energy efficient appliances.

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Before

Teva Smith, a freshman biology major, thought that he used the most water when flushing the toilet and taking a shower. He also said he eats a lot of meat and knows that it takes a lot of water to produce animal products.

After

Smith noted that though he eats a lot of meat, he wasn’t very far above the average water footprint for that section. He usually only eats chicken, which has a lower water footprint than beef or pork.

Smith said he would consider down more on beef consumption since it’s unhealthy and worse for the environment. “I’ll keep up with the chicken, it’s healthy,” he said. “Healthy for me in that sense, not for the world.”

Though Smith said he wasn’t surprised by his diet’s water footprint, he said he didn’t realize how much energy he uses and how much water is used to generate it.

“I never thought that I used a lot of energy but I am always on my computer, phone, or technology so not too surprising,” he said

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Before

Dia Brown, a Spanish major at UNC, thought she used the most water while showering. She said needing to rinse out conditioner contributed to that water use.

After

Brown was most surprised by “Just how much, like the quantity of water that it takes for just one serving of food.”

She also said that the water footprint calculator helped her learn about ways to save water she was unaware of. “I didn’t know you could get a totally water efficient kitchen. I didn’t know that was an option,” she said.

She pointed out that such a project would probably be expensive and not available to many people. “So I don’t know how much of an option that would actually be. But that they exist is cool.”

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Before

“A lot of the foods that I eat require a lot of water,” said Emma Szczesiul, a UNC first year. “Meat takes a lot because you have to feed the animals.”

“And as Americans, our showers and toilets and other things use a lot more water than other places in the world,” she said.

After

Though Emma knew that it takes a lot of water to produce meat, she was still surprised by that section of her water footprint. She was impressed by how much diet water footprint decreases with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

She was also surprised that driving her energy efficient car still had such a large effect on her water footprint. “I drive a Honda Civic and I was expecting that to make a difference, but it still uses a lot.”

How Much Energy Is In Your Drink?

Move over, Red Bull. There’s a new energy drink in town.

When you think about how your city uses energy, transportation, lighting, and air conditioning probably come to mind.

But according to the EPA, water utilities are usually the largest energy users in a municipality, often using 30-40% of the municipality’s total energy consumed. Here in Orange County, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) works to lower that number through efficiency projects.

Let’s take a look at how energy was used to bring you your last glass of water and check out ways OWASA works to use that energy more efficiently.

Reservoir To Tap

Step One

The utility first pumps raw water from a reservoir to a water treatment plant. OWASA’s treatment plant is on Jones Ferry Road, less than two miles from UNC’s campus.

OWASA recently changed their pumping strategy at the reservoirs according to Mary Tiger, OWASA’s sustainability manager. This allows the utility to better match water need to water removed and avoid extracting excess.

Step Two

Next the water is pumped from tank to tank while being cleaned and processed.

Step Three

Once the water is clean, the utility pumps water out into the distribution system at high pressure.

Why is having high pressure so important? “To ensure clean drinking water, we want to make sure that there’s pressure in that distribution system so that if anything happens with the pipe the water’s coming out and nothing is coming in,” says Tiger.

Some water is pumped directly to homes and some is pumped up into elevated storage tanks, also known as water towers. The towers then use gravity to give the water the pressure it needs to move through distribution lines and fill your water glass.

“We are able to utilize the tanks to pump at off-peak times,” says Tiger. This means OWASA lets water down from towers during the day when energy demand is high. Then they pump water up into the towers at night when fewer people need energy.

If you thought that sounded like a lot of pumping, you’d be correct. “For water treatment the energy use goes back to pumps moving water around,” says Tiger. Finished water pumping accounts for 70% of energy use at the Jones Ferry Road plant.

Wastewater Treatment

It’s a few hours after that glass of water and your waste leaves your home and makes its way to OWASA’s Mason Farm wastewater treatment plant. We’ll look at the top three energy-using processes that help make your wastewater safe.

Number One

At the Mason Farm wastewater treatment plant, the aeration requires the largest percentage of energy. During aeration, air is added to the wastewater while microorganisms consume waste particles. According to OWASA, this aeration is the most important step of the cleaning process. It also requires the most energy, accounting for 27.6% of energy use at OWASA’s Mason Farm wastewater treatment plant.

Runner-Up

Processing waste solids removed during wastewater treatment takes 25.6% of energy used at the plant. Once treated, waste solids can be used as fertilizers.

Second Runner-Up

Pumping water requires a lot of energy during wastewater treatment as well, accounting for 15.7% of energy consumed.

Improving the System

Now once treated wastewater, known as reclaimed water, leaves the plant, UNC uses some of it for irrigation, cooling, and flushing toilets. The university funded OWASA’s reclaimed water system, finished in 2009, and now uses reclaimed water for 27% of its water needs. OWASA estimates that it takes 35% less energy to use reclaimed water than potable drinking water.

OWASA also recently finished a renovation of the Mason Farm wastewater treatment plant that has led to a 30-35% reduction in energy use, according to Tiger.

Relationship Status of Water and Energy: It’s complicated

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Source: Steven Worster 2012 – Flickr

Look at the picture below, take a deep breath, and then ignore it. If it looks incredibly complex, that’s because it is it is. The diagram illustrates the relationship between water and energy. Now, forget about the image for now because we’re about to break it down to the core concepts.

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Source: US Department of Energy (2014)

Codependency: A Common Relationship Flaw

When you think water conservation, what comes to mind? Shorter shower? Watering the lawn less? One of the most significant ways to use less water is by using less energy. To demonstrate the dependency that energy and water resources have on each other, consider the following morning routine:

You wake up and turn on the shower to let it get hot: 2 gallons

You use the loo and look at the morning monster staring back at you in the mirror:  3 gallons.

You suds up, rinse off, and jump out of the shower: 5 gallons

You brush your teeth: 1/2 gallon

You make breakfast, throw your dishes in the washing machine, and press start: 10 gallons

So when you add that up, how many gallons does your morning routine use? If you said a little over 20 gallons, you’re wrong.

Here’s the steps you didn’t consider. The water you used was pumped out of a reservoir, cleaned, and delivered to your house using electricity. The power plant that provided that energy required water in the generation of electricity.

Conservation is an environmental issue, but it also has important economic implications for US consumers. As public water supplies and energy compete for good ol’ H₂O, energy prices are increasing to balance the equation. One reason for price increases is the pumping of groundwater, which can be far below the surface and expensive to pump.

Do you like avocados and chocolate? Well, stresses to water and energy resources may decrease the supply of certain water intensive foods.

What Water does for Energy

The nation used about 201 billion gallons of water each day to produce electricity in 2005, according to the United States Geological Survey. That’s about three times the amount used for the public water supply, and that number doesn’t even include the water necessary to power hydroelectric plants.

The primary use of water in the energy sector is for thermoelectric plants, which create steam by burning a fuel to power a generator. Cooler water is then used to condense the steam to be used again.

Most of the water that is used in thermoelectric power plants is returned to the original source, but some is consumed in the process. About 2 gallons of water are consumed for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy produced. To put that into perspective, the average person uses 10,932 kWh in a year.

What Energy does for Water

Energy is necessary in the extraction, treatment, distribution and use of water. These processes account for about 13% of all electricity consumed in the US.

When population increases, the water demand goes with it. As we need more water we are having to drill deeper in the ground to get fresh water, like in California. Going to greater lengths to get fresh water has its health and financial consequences.

It’s Time to Talk

This is a picture from the San Juaquin Valley that shows how much the ground has sunk over 52 years. The main cause of this is from extracting water from reservoirs deep underground, causing a process called land subsidence. This has serious consequences for future water availability and stability of homes.

Dr. Tamlin Pavelsky, a professor of global hydrology at UNC, is concerned about how drought and population growth will play a part in these processes.

“And as we have more and more people move into the South…that means we need to provide water for a lot more people and a lot more businesses. And, to the extent that we should be concerned about drought here in the South, it’s largely to do with that demand side of things.”

San-Joaquin-Valley-subsidence

Source: USGS, http://water.usgs.gov/ogw/pubs/fs00165/

Now you know that the relationship between water and energy is one of the most important issues for today’s population. These two resources are critical to daily activities for you, your family, and your future. Start talking more about how we need to conserve water, save energy, and preserve our way of life.