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An Environmental and Societal Analysis of the US Electrical Energy Industry Based on the Water–Energy Nexus

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Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, 673 Auditorium Rd, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University, 1405 S Harrison Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA
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Department of Engineering Physics, University of Wisconsin–Platteville 1 University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818, USA
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Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No.12 Zhongguancun South St., Beijing 100081, China
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Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Urban Planning and Decision Making, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China
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Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92182, USA
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Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, 673 Auditorium Rd, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, 673 Auditorium Rd, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD 4222, Australia
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First Solar, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
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School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 501 E. St Joseph St, Rapid City, SD 57701, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Caisheng Wang
Energies 2021, 14(9), 2633; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092633
Received: 11 March 2021 / Revised: 21 April 2021 / Accepted: 29 April 2021 / Published: 4 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy and Water Nexus 2021)
To meet rising energy demands, power plant operations will expand, influencing the interactions between the water–energy nexus and society. However, a major challenge is integration of social dimensions within electricity generation. To address this, we generate a baseline dataset using US public data (2014–2019) from the Energy Information Administration and US Bureau of Labor Statistics. We identify the rate of energy consumed, CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions generated, and water used per MWh net electricity as well as employee wellbeing per unit MW capacity during electricity generation. Rates of energy consumption (MMBtu/MWh) decreased 4.9%, but water consumption and withdrawal (m3/MWh) both increased 0.93% and 0.31%, respectively. Emissions of CO2, SO2 and NOx decreased 22.64%, 75% and 25% MT/MWh, respectively. Thermoelectric cooling withdrawal and consumption is led by natural gas (50.07%, 38.31%), coal (29.61%, 25.07%), and nuclear energies (13.55%, 18.99%). Electric power generation contributes 0.06 injuries–illnesses/TWh and 0.001 fatalities/TWh, of which fossil fuels contributed 70% and 15%, respectively. Fossil fuels led in average annual employment (0.02 employees/MW) with low cost salaries (USD 0.09/MW) likely due to high collective capacity, which is declining. Estimated rates in this study and framework will aid power industry transition and operational decision makers. View Full-Text
Keywords: electricity generation; water–energy nexus; renewable energy; employee welfare electricity generation; water–energy nexus; renewable energy; employee welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Shirkey, G.; Belongeay, M.; Wu, S.; Ma, X.; Tavakol, H.; Anctil, A.; Marquette-Pyatt, S.; Stewart, R.A.; Sinha, P.; Corkish, R.; Chen, J.; Celik, I. An Environmental and Societal Analysis of the US Electrical Energy Industry Based on the Water–Energy Nexus. Energies 2021, 14, 2633. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092633

AMA Style

Shirkey G, Belongeay M, Wu S, Ma X, Tavakol H, Anctil A, Marquette-Pyatt S, Stewart RA, Sinha P, Corkish R, Chen J, Celik I. An Environmental and Societal Analysis of the US Electrical Energy Industry Based on the Water–Energy Nexus. Energies. 2021; 14(9):2633. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092633

Chicago/Turabian Style

Shirkey, Gabriela; Belongeay, Megan; Wu, Susie; Ma, Xiaoguang; Tavakol, Hassan; Anctil, Annick; Marquette-Pyatt, Sandra; Stewart, Rodney A.; Sinha, Parikith; Corkish, Richard; Chen, Jiquan; Celik, Ilke. 2021. "An Environmental and Societal Analysis of the US Electrical Energy Industry Based on the Water–Energy Nexus" Energies 14, no. 9: 2633. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092633

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