Renewable Energy Water Use May Be Higher Than Conventional Methods
(Gerard Wynn is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.)
By Gerard Wynn
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) – Countries struggling to plot a greener energy mix face the extra headache of water scarcity from drought, squeezing their options as they look to cut carbon emissions and source locally.
Energy choices are still wide open, from hydrogen to wind power and clean coal, in electricity generation and road transport.
Yet accounting for water, to allow for climate change and concerns that energy demand compounds water scarcity, forces tradeoffs.
For example, policymakers seeking more secure supplies of liquid transport fuels find that both tar sands and biofuels use more water than conventional gasoline – estimates put corn ethanol at 100 or 1,000 times more.
And in a tradeoff with cutting carbon emissions, the unproven technology of carbon capture and storage could cut CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent, but increase water consumption by the same amount.