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Water 2018, 10(3), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030308

How Much Water Can We Save by Achieving Renewable Portfolio Standards in the Southwest United States?

1
College of Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA
2
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 23 February 2018 / Accepted: 11 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
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Abstract

Electricity in the Southwestern United States is primarily generated with water intensive steam turbines. If energy demand continues to rise this will lead to a further rise in water demand. A comprehensive understanding of water consumption and withdrawal for utility scale generation of electricity is necessary before any improvements in the water efficiency of such systems in arid environments can be made. This study estimated and compared the water usage associated with thermoelectric generation (i.e., natural gas, coal), and solar energy, in the five driest Colorado River Basin states: Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. This study also examined and compared each state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and how this might impact water savings. Results showed that each state’s current RPS goals would reduce the water that is consumed by the generation of electricity. However, the amount of water savings will vary on a state by state basis. In order to reduce water consumption, replacing thermal electric generation with photovoltaic (PV) solar can be significant and should be encouraged. The amount of water saved will vary, however, depending on the state’s choice of coal or natural gas. View Full-Text
Keywords: electric generation; water consumption; water withdraw; water usage; PV solar; thermoelectric; System Dynamic modeling electric generation; water consumption; water withdraw; water usage; PV solar; thermoelectric; System Dynamic modeling
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Feng, Y.; Sueki, S.; Devitt, D.; Acharya, K. How Much Water Can We Save by Achieving Renewable Portfolio Standards in the Southwest United States? Water 2018, 10, 308.

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