The Watergy Nexus in the Western U.S. – Projections to 2100

Via The Stockholm Environmental Institute, a new report on the watergy nexus in the western U.S.  As the abstract notes:

“…Water and energy are deeply intertwined: production of electricity requires water, and water supply requires electricity. Demand for both is growing, while supply is constrained by limited resource availability, high costs, and the impacts of climate change. These linked problems are sometimes referred to as the “water-energy nexus.” This study looks at the situation in the U.S. West.

The authors modeled long-run scenarios for the eleven-state Western Electric Coordinating Council, stretching from the Pacific coast through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They project power plant construction and operation, focusing on costs, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, from now through 2100.

In each energy scenario, demand is based on state population trends, and on temperature forecasts from climate scenarios. Supply is initially based on existing power plants, shifting toward a new fuel mix as new plants are built, with different fuel mixes depending on policy choices.

The authors defined four scenarios: business as usual (BAU); water reduction; carbon cap; and both water and carbon limits. The most surprising conclusion was the relatively small difference between scenarios in total water consumption. The maximum impact, or difference between the most and least water-intensive energy scenarios, was less than 1.2 million acre-feet of water per year by 2100 for the eleven-state region as a whole.

The model also shows the range of carbon and water prices that could drive the market toward low-carbon and low-water choices. A carbon price of per ton of carbon dioxide makes the carbon-reducing scenarios lower in cost; a water price of ,000 to ,000 per acre foot is needed to make the water-conserving scenarios lower in cost. The latter is well beyond the range of current costs for virtually all water transactions…”

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 19th, 2011 at 3:32 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog And Its Author
As the scarcity of water and energy continues to grow, the linkage between these two critical resources will become more defined and even more acute in the months ahead.  This blog is committed to analyzing and referencing articles, reports, and interviews that can help unlock the nascent, complex and expanding linkages between water and energy -- The Watergy Nexus -- and will endeavor to provide a central clearinghouse for insightful articles and comments for all to consider.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has held a lifelong interest in environmental and conservation issues, primarily as they relate to freshwater scarcity, renewable energy, and national park policy.  Working from a water-scarce base in Las Vegas with his wife and son, he is the founder of Water Politics, an organization dedicated to the identification and analysis of geopolitical water issues arising from the world’s growing and vast water deficits, and is also a co-founder of SmartMarkets, an eco-preneurial venture that applies web 2.0 technology and online social networking innovations to motivate energy & water conservation.  He previously worked for an independent power producer in Central Asia; co-authored an article appearing in the Summer 2010 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, titled: “The Water Ethic: The Inexorable Birth Of A Certain Alienable Right”; and authored an article appearing in the inaugural issue of Johns Hopkins University's Global Water Magazine in July 2010 titled: “H2Own: The Water Ethic and an Equitable Market for the Exchange of Individual Water Efficiency Credits.”