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Research Report


Richard Lawson
Blythe J. Lyons
John R. Lyman
Mihaela Carstei
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2011
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 32
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. i-ii)
    Frederick Kempe

    Many factors are driving increasing public and government leaders’ interest in energy and water issues throughout the world. Global population continues to grow and with it demand for freshwater supplies for agriculture, industry, energy and recreation. The majority of this growth will be in emerging and developing countries that are already experiencing water and energy security challenges. Insecure energy supplies are bumping up against reductions in water supplies that are also becoming more costly. Heightened awareness of changes in climate patterns further drives the current debate.

    The United States faces energy and water challenges as well. The energy sector is...

  2. (pp. 3-4)

    The Atlantic Council’s Energy and the Environment Program continues its efforts to inform Congress, the American public, and key policy and industry leaders on energy related issues that impact the United States’ (US) ability to protect its energy, national, economic and environmental security. The Council’s goal is to develop a fact based understanding of energy related issues as well as to identify technology and policy options to address them.

    The energy water nexus is emerging as one of the most important and cross-cutting issues facing the United States today. Demand for both energy and water are increasing. Water restrictions due...

  3. (pp. 5-10)

    Michael E. Webber, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, sums up the energy and water nexus and the critical importance of dealing with this issue:

    Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern civilization. Without water, people die. Without energy, we cannot grow food, run computers, or power homes, schools or offices. As the world’s population grows in number and affluence, the demands for both resources are increasing faster than ever. Woefully underappreciated, however, is the reality that each of these precious commodities might soon cripple our use of the other. We consume massive...

  4. (pp. 11-16)

    The energy water nexus may be coming to a head in several areas. In the West and Southwest areas of the country, population and energy demands are increasing. In the East, environmental concerns are forcing changes to water cooling techniques and causing power plant closures.

    Fortunately, the issue has not yet reached a crisis stage, and there are opportunities to tackle the problems. As discussed in the next section, the level of discourse among government, stakeholder and industry groups is rising, and there are a myriad of activities underway to find the right solutions before the nexus becomes a crisis....

  5. (pp. 17-18)

    Water demand will grow alongside population increases. The population increase is driving increases in power demand which are colliding with water supply constraints. As demand for electricity grows, water withdrawal and consumption for power production will increase primarily for plant cooling purposes. In 2005, the US withdrew 143 billion gallons of water per day and consumed 4 billion gallons per day for thermoelectric power production. Water consumption may increase up to 63 percent from 2005 to 2030.

    The growth in water use with respect to thermoelectric power production will be dependent upon technology and policy choices.

    Generation choices will impact...