A new report by the European Wind Energy Association highlights an overlooked benefit of wind energy: it saves water. Unlike thermal generators that need vast amounts of water to drive steam turbines, wind turbines transform kinetic energy into mechanical power. In Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth, the rollout of wind farms is an ally for farmers and conservationists. It has the potential to liberate water currently used to generate electricity in fossil-fuelled power plants for agricultural use and environmental flows.
Published by North American Windpower. View the original article.
According to the EWEA report, nuclear, coal and gas plants in Europe use 4.5 billion m3 of water a year, equivalent to that of 82 million EU citizens – the same as the population of Germany. Energy production represents 44% of the EU’s total water use, more than any other activity.
However, EWEA says wind energy, which uses no water, avoids the use of 1.2 billion m3 of water per year, representing a savings of EUR 2.4 billion.
“Water equivalent to over three Olympic-size swimming pools is consumed every minute of every day of the year to cool Europe’s nuclear, coal and gas plants,” says Ivan Pineda of EWEA. “Increasing our use of wind energy will help preserve this precious resource far more effectively than any ban on watering the garden – while saving us money”.
The EWEA report is similar to a series of studies in the U.S., including a November 2013 report from Environment America. That study found that wind power in 2012 saved enough water to supply the annual domestic water needs of more than 1 million people.