Estimating Freshwater Needs to Meet Future Thermoelectric Generation Requirements
Growing concerns about freshwater availability must be reconciled with growing demand for power if the United States is to maintain economic growth and current standards of living. Thermoelectric generating capacity is expected to increase by nearly 22% between 2005 and 2030, based on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2006 (AEO 2006) projections. Two previous water needs analyses have been conducted by the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL); one in 2004 and the other in 2006. The 2004 report suggested that national freshwater withdrawals may increase slightly or decline depending on assumptions made, while freshwater consumption will likely increase dramatically. However, regional water impacts can be significantly different than national data averages might suggest. To characterize the significance of the regional impacts on water use, the August 2006 report compared regional electricity demand and capacity forecasts from AEO 2006 with representative water withdrawal and consumption estimates to identify regions where water issues could become acute.