Water is an essential component of electricity production. The production of electricity requires water for fuel processing, cooling, materials handling, combustion efficiency and environmental control. Steam electric generation, including coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear units require abundant, and predictable quantities of water for these purposes. To serve these needs, water is withdrawn from various water bodies. In many instances, the majority of the withdrawn water is returned to the water source and is available to be used again.
While thermoelectric power generation currently accounts for 41 percent of total water withdrawals, it only accounts for approximately three percent of water consumed. Electricity production accounts for a growing portion of water consumption (water removed for use and not returned to its source). Accordingly, the electric power industry is partnering with government agencies, states and private research organizations to explore non-traditional sources of water for the industry, such as innovative water reuse and recovery designs, advanced cooling technologies and advanced power systems that are more water efficient. We’re continually looking for new and innovative ways to enhance water quality.