Living in the hydro-rich Pacific Northwest it is hard to imagine rationing showers and lawn watering in order to have a few hours a day of electricity, but that is what is happening in Venezuela right now.
One of the severest droughts in decades has given Venezuela’s socialist president a political nightmare as hydro-electrical power dribbles to a standstill, unleashing blackouts, rationing and protests. The waters behind the Guri dam, which supplies more than half the nation’s power, have touched perilously low levels.
Nevertheless, with energy production requiring as much water as agriculture and once mighty rivers like the Rio Grande no longer reaching the ocean and energy usage expected to grow beyond existing capacity, unless we decentralize now, it will happen here.
There are many reasons I focus upon wind energy, not the least being the ample supply…this from the November 2009 Scientific American.
Plenty of Supply
Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency projects that in 2030 the world will require 16.9 TW of power as global population and living standards rise, with about 2.8 TW in the
U.S. The mix of sources is similar to today’s, heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If, however, the planet were powered entirely by WWS, with no fossil-fuel or biomass combustion, an intriguing savings would occur. Global power demand would be only 11.5 TW, and U.S. demand would be 1.8 TW. That decline occurs because, in most cases, electrification is a more efficient way to use energy. For example, only 17 to 20 percent of the energy in gasoline is used to move a vehicle (the rest is wasted as heat), whereas 75 to 86 percent of the electricity delivered to an electric vehicle goes into motion.
Even if demand did rise to 16.9 TW, WWS sources could provide far more power. Detailed studies by us and others indicate that energy from the wind, worldwide, is about 1,700 TW
Another reason I favor wind is that wind is the only renewable energy source that does not require any water during the production of electricity. Even solar requires massive amounts of water when used in a centralized system.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, to generate one kilowatt hour of electricity from nuclear power 2.3 litres of water are needed. Coal requires 1.9 litres and oil consumes 1.6 litres…Some CSP technology utilises rows of curved mirrors focus heat onto a tube filled with oil which boils water to make steam, in turn spinning a turbine a turbine – this is called a trough system. Another uses reflective mirrors called heliostats to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto liquid-filled tubes used to generate steam and spin turbines.
In the case of trough technology, the water footprint is considerable – around 3.6 litres per kilowatt hour.
This video produced in England shares the benefits of decentralizing even if still using fossil fuels.