Saturday, May 2, 2009

Water and Energy Security

The Connection: Water and Energy Security

The energy security of the United States [or any other country] is closely linked to the state of its water resources. No longer can water resources be taken for granted if the U.S. is to achieve energy security in the years and decades ahead.

At the same time, U.S. water security cannot be guaranteed without careful attention to related energy issues. The two issues are inextricably linked, as this article will discuss. 

Energy security rests on two principles – using less energy to provide needed services, and having access to technologies that provide a diverse supply of reliable, affordable and environmentally sound energy.

Many forms of energy production depend on the availability of water – e.g., the production of electricity at hydropower sites in which the kinetic energy of falling water is converted to electricity. Thermal power plants, in which fossil, nuclear and biomass fuels are used to heat water to steam to drive turbine-generators, require large quantities of water to cool their exhaust streams. The same is true of geothermal power plants. Water also plays an important role in fossil fuel production via injection into conventional oil wells to increase production, and its use in production of oil from unconventional oil resources such as oil shale and tar sands. In the future, if we move aggressively towards a hydrogen economy, large quantities of water will be required to provide the needed hydrogen via electrolysis.
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In Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) there are few choices for energy generation apart from alternative sources, solar, wind, ocean thermal and wave energy or for air-conditioning, geothermal. Without moving in this direction basic human security can be compromised. Editor.

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