Energy Low Emission Development Strategies in Asia: A Regional Overview and Experiences from Thailand

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Oct 312014
 

The Development of the Renewable Energy Market in Latin America and the Caribbean

 presentation  Comments Off on The Development of the Renewable Energy Market in Latin America and the Caribbean
Sep 232014
 

Here are the slides from my presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) tomorrow.

Ochs_IDB_LAC.RE.StudyPresentation_140923

OVERVIEW

  1. Renewable Energy for Power Generation: Global Trends
  2. Renewable Energy in LAC
  3. Barriers to the Advancement of Renewable Energy in LAC and Opportunities to Overcome Them
  4. Vulnerability to Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies in the Power Sector in LAC
  5. How the IDB Can Support Renewable Energy Development in LAC

 

Sep 232014
 

Here is my presentation on the Economic, Social & Environmental Successes of the German Energy Transition which I gave at the Private Sector Prep Meeting for COP 20 in Lima last week. RethinkingTheEnergySystem_Ochs_Lima_140915_final         overview

  1. the trends| Germany’s energy transition
  2. the enablers | Vision, policies, governance
  3. the impacts | Busted myths, changed paradigms
  4. the lessons | Key take-aways

 Renewables 2014 Global Status Report Highlights Another Year of Impressive Renewable Energy Growth

 press release  Comments Off on  Renewables 2014 Global Status Report Highlights Another Year of Impressive Renewable Energy Growth
Jun 032014
 

 

WW Color Logo_Green Blue

PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Worldwatch Institute researchers contribute to leading global study on renewable energy development.

Washington, D.C.—-Renewable energy technologies set new installation records as their contribution to the global energy mix continued to climb in 2013. Renewable power capacity jumped more than 8 percent in 2013, accounting for over 56 percent of net additions and now has the potential to account for over a fifth of world electricity generation. These are some of the findings of the latest edition of the annual Renewables Global Status Report, released by the Paris-based Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21). The report is the product of a collaborative effort of an international network of more than 500 contributors, researchers, and authors. (…)

“Renewables are one of the most important tools in this century for social, economic, and environmental progress,” says Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at Worldwatch. “The paradigm that being dirty is good for the green in your pocket is eroding. This report demonstrates that we can overcome the political barriers and vested interests still in the way of a smarter, safer, and healthier world.”

[You can find the full press release and key findings from the report here.]

Presentations on Reform of Water and Electricity Regulatory Systems in Caribbean and Pacific Small Island States

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Mar 252014
 

Just gave these two presentations here at the Pacific and Caribbean  Conference on Effective and Sustainable Regulation of Energy and Water Services organized by ADB and SPC in Nadi, Fiji:

ADB_logoSPC_logoCaribbean Energy and Water Policies: An Overview of 8 Case Studies
This presentation gives an overview of key preliminary findings from an examination of water and energy regulations and regulatory structures in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, and St. Lucia.

Statutes and Regulation: The Low-Discretion Model of Saint Lucia
Like many small-island developing states, one of the major regulatory challenges facing Saint Lucia is how to regulate effectively with limited financial and human resources. Its experience with a Low-Discretion Model provides important insights.

I would like to thank my whole team at Worldwatch for contributing to, and particularly Evan Musolino and Katie Auth for taking the lead on, preparing these two presentations.

Is Africa’s Nuclear Power Renaissance Heading Into An Abyss?

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Mar 212014
 

AFK_logo

By D.A. Barber AFKI Original

South Africa, which currently relies on coal for more than 85 percent of its electricity, wants to wean itself off fossil fuels by using more nuclear power by 2030. Kenya, Nigeria, and other sub-Saharan countries have similar aspirations and are not far behind. (…)

Nuclear power plant construction has stagnated worldwide, according to an October 2013 report from U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute. 

Nuclear is the only mainstream power source – including all of the renewables and all the fossil fuels – that is stagnant and has actually had negative growth, said Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Worldwatch Institute, in an AFKInsider interview.

The reason for that stagnation of nuclear? It’s not that countries are forbidden to build them — it’s simply economics, Ochs said. Utilities are unwilling to carry the high costs and the high risks. (…)

“I’m just not sure why you would go down a nuclear route, which is extremely expensive,” Worldwatch Institute’s Ochs told AFKInsider. “You’re not building a nuclear power plant in a couple years. It’s a 15-year project. South Africa has a lot of coal left. I’m not a huge fan of getting the coal out of the ground and burning it, but it gives you time for a transitional strategy towards renewable technologies that are actually using the enormous potentials that you have in the country. To me it doesn’t make any sense.” (…) Continue reading »

Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $2 Trillion, Despite Global Condemnation

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Jan 302014
 

Despite a growing consensus that support for the oil and gas industry is unfair, inefficient and globally dangerous, there’s no actual implementation of plans to change it.

By Carey L. Biron | January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Global tax breaks, incentives, and various other consumption and production subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are likely topping $2 trillion each year, amounting to 2.5 percent of total gross domestic product for 2012. After a dip in the immediate aftermath of the global financial recession, these figures have risen in recent years, according to a new report from Worldwatch, a Washington-based think tank. Incentives for renewable energy sources remain tiny by comparison, estimated at just $88 billion for 2011. (…)
“In the U.S., a lot of this is just lip service. The country is really not yet walking the walk,” Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, told MintPress. “Both nationally and internationally, we have not made any significant progress toward the goal of reducing subsidies, which was actually declared quite a long while ago. In my view, it’s outrageous that we’re not making any more progress.”
[You can find the whole story here]

Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap

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Nov 212013
 

Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy team just launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the country can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable.

The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways. Click here for more information about the project and to read the report.

‘Tony Abbott’s got my baby’

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Nov 192013
 

GlobalPostLogoAnalysis: The new prime minister’s honeymoon is marred by an asylum scandal — and a host of other questionable moves.

Global Post, 19 November 2013

(…) On Sunday, tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against what they see as government climate change denial.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, slammed the announcement last week that Australia would downgrade its emissions reduction targets from 25 percent to just 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.“Emissions in Europe and the United States are [already] decreasing,” he told GlobalPost. “The position of the new Australian government is shameless and irresponsible. And it makes no sense — economically, socially, environmentally, politically.”

He said the policy could have dire consequences for other countries, too. “Abandoning that pledge could be a deal wrecker for the international community and any meaningful international agreements,” he says. “The Australian government is also considering cutting commitment to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change. At the same time, it complains about the environmental refugees that arrive at its shore every day because they no longer see a future in their own countries.”

With severe cuts also in store for Australia’s premier federal scientific research institute, CSIRO, it is unclear how Australia will nurture the talent needed to fight climate change. Ochs says that instead of leading the world in the development of green energy sources, Australia will have to “rely on an economic model from the last century that is dirty, ugly, uneconomic and kills Australians every day.” (…)

Negotiating climate change as if development really mattered

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Nov 182013
 

Alexander Ochs, Worldwatch Institute

Published in Outreach, 18 November 2013

Over the past twenty years, climate negotiations have been dominated by concerns that addressing global warming is anti-business and onerous to future development.  The insufficient progress we have made at the last 18 COPs towards ‘preventing dangerous human interference with the climate system,’ the ultimate goal of the UN Climate Convention, is a consequence of this – and the summit currently underway in Warsaw is not exactly on course to make a change. Working in many places around the world, from Haiti to India to Europe and the United States, I have witnessed little success in convincing people of the importance of sacrifice for the global commons.  This approach has proven ineffective.

I wrote in this publication a couple of years ago that ‘new energy for the negotiations’ was needed. The article’s title, of course, was a play on words: More than anything else we need to quickly transition to new energy systems built on efficient consumption and renewable resources, as well as decentralised and smart transmission solutions, in order to decarbonise our societies and help them to adapt to climate change. But we also need new, renewable and sustainable energy for the negotiations.  Discussing climate mitigation as what can be won, rather than what must be given up, and a strategy that at its core builds on the experiences that already have been made in many places around the world on the way to building low-emissions economies might not just inspire scale-up and replication of on-the-ground action but also revitalise international partnership and ambition. Continue reading »

More Energy for the Negotiations

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Nov 282012
 

Published in Outreach | COP-18, Doha |  28 November 2012 

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute

More than half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels for energy supply. Even excluding traditional biomass, fossil fuel combustion accounts for 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Against this background, it is surprising how limited a role energy is playing in the ongoing climate negotiations. And yet this discussion could be instrumental in refocusing the debate about what is necessary and what is possible in both the areas of climate mitigation and adaptation—bringing it back down from the current inscrutable spheres of negotiation tracks, subsidiary bodies, parallel sessions, ad-hoc working groups, and special meetings (which, let’s be frank, nobody outside the negotiators understands anymore).

First, a focus on energy shows how far we are from solving the climate crisis. Energy-related CO2 emissions grew 3.2 percent in 2011 to more than 31 gigatons—despite the economic crisis. We know that if we don’t want to lose track of the 2-degree Celsius threshold of maximum warming that would hopefully avoid major disasters, energy emissions must decline by at least one third to 20 gigatons in 2035, despite expectations that energy demand might double in the same time frame. .

So the challenge is enormous. But—and this is where the good news starts—clean energy solutions are at hand, ready to be implemented. The costs for wind, solar, sustainable hydro, biomass and waste energy technologies all continue to fall rapidly, and, in many markets, they are becoming price competitive with fossil fuels—even if externalities and fossil fuel subsidies are not internalized. If they are, the cost that our societies pay for our continued reliance on fossil fuels becomes truly outrageous: Coal, responsible for 71 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions, causes more than US$100 billion in local pollution and health care costs annually in the United States alone, in addition to the personal hardships of those suffering from these impacts. Add the costs for climate change, and it becomes incomprehensible why our societies continue down the fossil path despite the availability of alternatives.

Continue reading »

New Report Highlights Link Between Climate Change, National Security

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Nov 132012
 
by Brian Padden, Voice of America, November 09, 2012 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Research Council released a report Friday on the link between global climate change and national security. The scientific study details how global warming is putting new social and political stresses on societies around the world and how the United States and other counties can anticipate and respond to these climate-driven security risks. The report by the congressionally-chartered research group begins with an assertion that global warming is real, and that the mainstream scientific community believes that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are being added to the atmosphere faster today than they were before the rise of human societies.  (…)
Alexander Ochs, the Climate and Energy Director at the non-profit Worldwatch Institute, says the report is an important reminder to world leaders of the complex problems posed by climate change: “So any investment we can make today in reducing emissions will make the problem smaller and it will pay out multi-fold in terms of the costs we have to pick up in the future,” Ochs said.The report, however, does not deal with how nations should go about reducing carbon emissions in the future.  It focuses on the present and how the U.S. and the world can better manage potentially disruptive climate events.
You can find the full article [HERE].

Moving Renewable Energy Forward in Nicaragua

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Sep 132012
 

Adam Dolezal and Alexander Ochs | ReVolt | 13 September 2012

Para una versión en español de este blog, por favor hacer click aquí.

Last week, the Worldwatch Institute’s Central America team – together with our partners from the INCAE Business School – convened a working group of nearly 40 renewable energy experts and decision-makers in Managua, Nicaragua. The emphasis: access to energy for marginalized communities through sustainable energy options. With presentations and participation from the government’s renewable energy office, Nicaragua’s renewable energy association, an array of rural energy initiatives, and the region’s largest wind power developer, the working group took our research and potential for impact to a new level.

Participants from the workshop The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Nicaragua at INCAE Business School Campus in Managua, Nicaragua.

Worldwatch Director of Climate & Energy, Alexander Ochs, incited the round table forum to recall that the overarching goal of our efforts is not to promote renewable energy technology for its own sake– as so often the discussion can remain caught in technical details – but for the environmental, social and economic outcomes that clean and locally-generated energy provides. Renewable energy is a means to reach overarching policy priorities: giving access to modern energy sources, mitigating local pollution and climate change, and addressing important gender, health, and education issues. In a region where countries ship 5 to 15 percent of their GDP overseas for the import of fossil fuels-the use of which produces high additional social, environmental and economic costs- harvesting domestic renewable energy sources is a prerequisite for sustained economic growth. Continue reading »

Experts Assess Future of Renewable Energy in Central America

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Aug 302012
 

The Worldwatch Institute and the INCAE Business School host high-level workshop on energy access and renewable energy potential in Central America

WASHINGTON – August 30 – The Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) and the INCAE Business School’s Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) are co-hosting two workshops on “The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Central America” in Managua, Nicaragua and Alajuela, Costa Rica tomorrow and on September 3, respectively. The participative dialogues aim to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences among a select group of experts from regional institutions, civil society organizations, energy sector companies, and government agencies. The workshops will focus on the role of renewable technologies in broadening access to modern energy services and achieving regional development goals.
(…)
“This project is a joint effort aimed at speeding the development of renewables in Central America,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. “Key energy experts will gather in one room to discuss the region’s challenges and opportunities in embracing renewables, discussing state-of-the-art reforms as well as areas of local, national, and regional best practices.”

“It’s not just that all countries will need to contribute to mitigating and adapting to global climate change.” continued Ochs. “Central America can become a real leader on renewables, given the high price it pays for its current energy system—-some countries spend 10 percent or more of their GDP on importing fossil fuels. The region has also had exciting early experiences with adopting new, unconventional renewable technologies, including geothermal, solar, biomass, and wind technologies.”

The first workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Managua campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, 2012. The second workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Alajuela campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 3, 2012.

[You can find the full announcement HERE]

 

Biofuels Make a Comeback Despite Tough Economy

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Aug 292012
 

Global production of biofuels increased 17 percent in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters, up from 90 billion liters in 2009. High oil prices, a global economic rebound, and new laws and mandates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, and the United States, among other countries, are all factors behind the surge in production, according to research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Program for the website Vital Signs Online.

The United States and Brazil remain the two largest producers of ethanol. In 2010, the United States generated 49 billion liters, or 57 percent of global output, and Brazil produced 28 billion liters, or 33 percent of the total. Corn is the primary feedstock for U.S. ethanol, and sugarcane is the dominant source of ethanol in Brazil.

“In the United States, the record production of biofuels is attributed in part to high oil prices, which encouraged several large fuel companies, including Sunoco, Valero, Flint Hills, and Murphy Oil, to enter the ethanol industry,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. High oil prices were also a factor in Brazil, where every third car-owner drives a “flex-fuel” vehicle that can run on either fossil or bio-based fuels. Many Brazilian drivers have switched to sugarcane ethanol because it is cheaper than gasoline.

“Although the U.S. and Brazil are the world leaders in ethanol, the largest producer of biodiesel is the European Union, which generated 53 percent of all biodiesel in 2010,” said Ochs. “However, we may see some European countries switch from biodiesel to ethanol because a recent report from the European Commission states that ethanol crops have a higher energy content than biodiesel crops, making them more efficient sources of fuel.”
(…)

[Find the full article HERE | The Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Sign Biofuels article can be found HERE]

A new sustainable energy model

 academic article/report  Comments Off on A new sustainable energy model
Aug 212012
 


Alexander Ochs, Director and Katie Auth, Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute welcome a new energy model, and encourage governments to undertake Sustainable Energy Roadmaps.

Climate change and the reliable, affordable supply of energy are among the most pressing issues we will face in the twenty-first century. Despite recognition of these unprecedented collective challenges, the international community has so far failed to take
aggressive action. Fortunately, signs point to the appearance of a new paradigm – fuelled in part by the growing efficiency and plummeting costs of renewable energy sources. Facilitating a shift to clean, low-carbon societies does not mean sacrificing
economic or human development. On the contrary, it increasingly represents our only way to attain both.

Already, people around the world are dealing with the effects of changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss – with negative implications not only for the environment, but also for human health and well-being. Commonwealth countries, located across a wide geographic range, will face a broad array of climaterelated impacts. These include changes in the distribution of fish stocks, the melting of Arctic ice, coastal flooding, and drought. It is vital that Ministers within the Commonwealth take heed and look for sustainable solutions.

[Find the whole article, published in the 2012 Commonwealth Ministers Reference Book, HERE]

Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Subsidies on the Rise

 academic article/report  Comments Off on Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Subsidies on the Rise
Aug 212012
 

Alexander Ochs, Eric Anderson, and Reese Rogers | Aug 21, 2012

A recent projection places the total value of conventional global fossil fuel subsidies between $775 billion and more than $1 trillion in 2012, depending on which supports are included in the calculation.1 In contrast, total subsidies for renewable energy stood at $66 billion in 2010, although that was a 10 percent increase from the previous year.2 Two thirds of these subsidies went to renewable electricity resources and the remaining third to biofuels.3

Although the total subsidies for renewable energy are significantly lower than those for fossil fuels, they are higher per kilowatt-hour if externalities are not included in the calculations. Estimates based on 2009 energy production numbers placed renewable energy subsidies between 1.7¢ and 15¢ per kilowatt-hour while subsidies for fossil fuels were estimated at around 0.1–0.7¢ per kWh.4 Unit subsidy costs for renewables are expected to decrease as technologies become more efficient and the prices of wholesale electricity and transport fuels rise.5

Globally negotiated efforts to reduce fossil fuel subsidies have been hindered by competing definitions of subsidies. Calculation methods also vary. The common price gap approach to calculating consumption subsidies uses the difference between the observed domestic prices of energy and the world market prices as an estimate of the impacts of a country’s policies on market prices.6 Some oil exporters, however, argue that production cost rather than market price should be used as the baseline.7 The difficulties in accurately measuring data are compounded by the lack of transparency among countries with regard to energy subsidies.8

 

[For full access to the complete trend and its associated charts, log in to Vital Signs]

Worldwatch Report on Fossil-Fuel Subsidies: With No Gain, Less Societal Pain

 newspaper article  Comments Off on Worldwatch Report on Fossil-Fuel Subsidies: With No Gain, Less Societal Pain
Aug 212012
 

By Cheryl Kaften, August 21, 2012 

Total subsidies for renewable energy stood at $66 billion in 2010 – less than one-tenth of the government financing provided globally to the fossil fuel industry, according to new research from the Washington, DC-based Worldwatch Institute.
(…)
“These so-called hidden costs, or externalities, are in fact very real costs to our societies
that are not picked up by the polluter and beneficiary of production but by all taxpayers,” said Alexander Ochs, director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy program and report co-author.  “Local pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels kill thousands in the United States, alone, each year, and society makes them cheaper to continue down their destructive path.”

Shifting official support from fossil fuels to renewables, Ochs pointed out, is essential
for “decarbonizing” the global energy system.

Such a shift could help create a triple win for national economies by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, generating long-term economic growth and reducing dependence on energy imports.
(…)
“At the same time, a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies would level the
playing field for renewables and allow us to reduce support for clean energy sources as well,” said Ochs.  “After all, fossil fuels have benefited from massive governmental backing worldwide for hundreds of years.”

Progress toward a complete phase-out, however, has been minimal, according to Ochs. The
2009 pledge by the Group of 20 major economies to reduce “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” has been left “vague and unfulfilled.” The lack of a definition has left countries to make their own determination if their subsidies are inefficient. As of August 2012, G20 countries had not taken any substantial action in response to the pledge: Six members opted out of reporting altogether (an increase from two in 2010), and no country has yet initiated a subsidy reform in response to the pledge.

[You can find the whole article HERE; further reporting HERE | HERE | HERE | HERE]

 

Energy Agency Looks to Natural Gas “Golden Age”

 newspaper interview  Comments Off on Energy Agency Looks to Natural Gas “Golden Age”
May 302012
 

Wed, 30 May 2012 04:57 GMT, Source: Content Partner // Inter Press Service
By Carey L. Biron

WASHINGTON, May 30 (IPS) – If a series of “golden rules” can be followed, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests, global natural gas usage could grow by more than 50 percent by 2035.The report, released on Tuesday, came under sharp criticism from environmental groups for charting a route to a “golden age” in the extraction and use of natural gas.
(…)
“We have an opportunity for natural gas to address the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources – it could become an ally of renewables,” Alexander Ochs, the director of the climate and energy programme at the Worldwatch Institute here in Washington, told IPS. Ochs also reviewed a draft of the IEA report.

Ochs says that there are a number of actors within the gas sector that will welcome the new IEA recommendations as a way of cutting down on the potential of a future environmental catastrophe that could lead to industry-damaging policy restrictions.

“The problem isn’t with this report. The problem is that if you don’t have good regulations in place, there go your opportunities,” he says. “And if you don’t have smart technologies in place, you lose this ally.”

Ochs does warn that the report underplays the potential use of renewables in the upcoming decades, however, by suggesting that green technologies other than hydro will only make up five percent of total energy demand in the next quarter century.

“I think the IEA could well be wrong in the numbers it’s using. Technically and economically, more than half of our electricity could come from renewables as early as 2030,” he says.

“But if gas sees a golden age and becomes cheap globally, it could get in the way of renewables. Then, rather than being an enabler, it becomes a deal breaker.”

 

US Electrical Energy Production Ripping US Water Supply

 newspaper interview  Comments Off on US Electrical Energy Production Ripping US Water Supply
May 172012
 

The Emergency Email & Wireless Network, http://www.emergencyemail.org/newsemergency/anmviewer.asp?a=1686&z=34

Scientists, climatologists and energy experts share a growing concern: the need for water in the production of energy, especially in regions that are experiencing serious drought. Generating power – whether it be from fossil fuels or renewable energy sources – requires large amounts of water. How are the nation’s energy producers are facing this challenge?

Water is also used to cool fuel rods at nuclear plants and to generate steam to power turbines. The biofuel industry needs water for irrigation, fermentation and the production of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, says that adds up to a lot of water. “Per megawatt hour, coal uses 500 to 1000 gallons of water for the production of just one megawatt hour of electricity,” said Ochs. “If we look at all the plants combined in the U.S., all the thermo-electric plants [powered by steam] in the US in 2008 alone, they drew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of water, per year.”

Without water, most types of energy could not be produced. Even renewable energy, like geothermal and solar, use water to cool equipment and to clean the collector panels. Those requirements have led California, Massachusetts and several Midwestern states to halt the operations of some power plants.

“Places like the Midwest where water is a very scarce resource already today, a number of power plants have actually been halted, and this is actually true for across the United States,” said Ochs. (…)

[Please find the full article HERE]