Unintended Consequences, Part III: Electricity vs. Water

The latest installment in my compilation of the unintended consequences of new energy technologies: “clean” power projects can be giant water hogs. (Here’s part I and here’s part II.)

The New York Times reported today that utility-scale solar energy projects in the sun-rich but water-poor Southwest and California are running into obstacles as project developers compete with local interests for access to water. One proposed solar project in Nevada, for example, would have used some 1.3 billion gallons of water per year.

If water is the new oil, water-guzzling energy installations will face justifiable skepticism, especially in dry areas.

The article references BrightSource, a solar developer with a relatively less water-intensive approach to power generation. It quotes BrightSource investor (and my new favorite VC) Alan Salzman of VantagePoint Venture Partners explaining his decision to invest in BrightSource:  “Our approach is high sensitivity to water use …. We thought that was going to be huge differentiator.”

As alternative energy sources are developed and deployed, it clearly critical that investors, developers and regulators consider the big picture environmental impacts of new projects.

What’s your perspective?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under solar, water

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s