Did you know… renewable energy saves water too?
Solar and wind energy not only reduces air pollution. It also has a massive effect on water consumption.
The simple process of delivering electricity from a coal-fired generator to you is this:
- Coal is mined, pulverised and burned, producing an efficient and sustainable level of heat.
- The fire superheats water, producing pressurised steam.
- The pressure from the steam drives turbines that generate electricity.
- Electricity is delivered to your business.
In this process, coal is consumed, producing pollutants such as smoke particulates, carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and many other gases both harmful and inert.
What should concern Western Australians though is that up to a quarter of the water converted to steam is lost to the atmosphere. Additionally, unusable water requires cleaning and refiltering, also using coal-generated energy. As a result, coal-fired generators can lose up to 4,100 litres for every mega-watt hour (MWh) of electricity consumed.
Let’s put this in perspective. The average home in Perth consumes around 7.25 MWh per year. That means that, on top of your household’s normal water usage, your household is likely to consume 30,000 litres of water per year just so that you can turn a light bulb on, watch TV, or charge your mobile phone.
To make matters worse, energy suppliers need to account for the electricity lost between the generator and your home. Effectively, suppliers generate approximately 9% more electricity than we consume, adding to our overall consumption of both coal and water.
Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, consume no water to produce their power. And the water consumed in the production of panels in negligible compared to the quantities of water required to build and operate a coal plant.
Australia has been suffering from a lack of water for years. Most cities across the country operate year-round water usage restrictions designed to save water.
Perhaps if more Australian businesses and homes sourced energy generated by renewable sources, we could drastically reduce our water usage, and avert further crisis in our country.
- Energy consumption average based on averages generated here: https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/ for 4 people living in North Fremantle, WA.