Ep 121: What are the impacts of energy on water?

From cooling power plants to use in hydraulic fracturing, our energy production has a great effect on water resources. Jared Cohon, Director of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and President Emeritus of Carnegie Mellon University, explains how we can reduce the negative effects of energy production on our water supply.



Learn more

Thermoelectric Power Water Use from the U.S. Geological Survey

How much water does a fracking well require? from the U.S. Geological Survey


HOST: What are the impacts of energy on water? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jared Cohon, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, has some answers.

COHON: Among the most significant impacts is the need for water to cool thermalelectric power plants that burn coal or natural gas or use nuclear energy. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 41% of all freshwater withdrawals- for all uses, not just energy- in the United States are for cooling at power plants.

Hydraulic fracturing for the production of shale gas is another significant and growing user of water. In fact, almost every aspect of energy production and use has an impact on water.

HOST: What can we do about it?

COHON: One way to lessen energy’s impact on water is to be efficient by recycling and matching sources to their uses. For example, do we have to use pristine river water for hydraulic fracturing? Or could we use acid mine drainage from old coal mines? Second, we should have rigorous standards that require adequate treatment of wastewaters. And, third, by supporting research to explore alternatives to eliminate or significantly reduce water use and to develop new, more effective treatment technologies.

HOST: Are you concerned about the impact of energy on water? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


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