Our resource hungry power plants are depleting our water resources

The so-called water crisis is not just a result of the water wastage but also the pollution of water resources play a hand in depleting water resources. A major part of water pollution is due to power plants that generate energy. There are different types of power plants. All of them need water as fuel, raw material or for electricity generation. The discharge of polluted water from these industries results in shortage of drinking water. Let us traverse through some of the most common power plants:solar power plant water usage

Wet-cooled concentrated solar power plants

If you believe that the solar power plants use no water to generate electricity, then you are somewhat wrong. They do use water but the wastage of water is least by solar power plants than any other, especially the ones that use dry cooling. These are obviously the best option available that produces no carbon emission.

Coal-fired plants 

These plants use coal that is a fossil fuel subjected to decomposition by heat and pressure from a million years. The process of electricity generation requires coal-mining, coal transportation to power plants and burning of coal. Now before the transportation, water is used to wash coal for removing impurities. Water is used in producing steam and again for the cooling process. When water is discharged, it can affect the aquatic life and drinking water resources become scarce.

Nuclear energy power plants and water usage

Nuclear energy power plants

Nuclear power plants produce no carbon emissions. They are of two major types: One is boiling water reactors and other is pressurized water reactors. Both produce steam and in both, steam must be cooled after it is used in electricity generation in turbines. Nuclear energyuses water during three steps: extraction and processing of uranium, mainly in producing electricity and for reducing wastes.

Natural gas plants

Natural gas power plants prove better than coal-fired plants but they are still not environment friendly. The natural gas plants emit less than half carbon emissions and use less water than coal-fired plants. The process includes combustion of gas in the turbines. The waste heat generates electricity. These turbines do not need cooling. The water is required in stages of electricity generation, fuel extraction from a natural source and fuel processing which includes gas refining and pipeline operation.


As we can see, water is wasted by whatever resource we use for power plants. We should look for efficient ways to produce electricity and reducing the use of water resources. One of the most effective solutions to this is wind turbines. However, they come with location limits. A more viable solution will be the use of renewable resources that use minimum amounts of water.

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